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Book Review – The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas by Julia Romp

Synopsis:  Julia’s nine-year-old son, George, was autistic.  Quiet and withdrawn, he appeared lost in his own world.  Then one day a small black-and-white stray cat appeared in her garden and George’s face lit up.

George bonded with Ben and began to open up to his mother as well.  For three happy years, the trio was inseparable and George made remarkable progress.  But then disaster struck – Ben went missing and George regressed.

The weeks turned into months, and Christmas was fast approaching, but on December 21, Julia got a call from a family more than fity miles away, which finally offered a ray of hope …

Genuinely touching, The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas is a story about devotion, love, and a holiday miracle.

First LineWhen it came to first impressions, Ben didn’t exactly shine.

Random QuoteOver the next few days, it was the same whatever game George played:  nothing worried Ben.  After all the hissing and spitting when he was living in the shed,I’d wondered whether he might claw George if things got out of hand.  But Ben never reacted to what George did – whether it was grabbing his tail or fiddling with his ears.  He just padded calmly around after George, and when George had left for school, Ben would spend the day quietly at home until he heard the sound of the front door, when he rant to meet him.

Review:  If it’s not a classic, I tend not to read or review holiday books.  There are a slew of them every year at this time – almost uniformly heartwarming and sentimental.  I just don’t do heartwarming and sentimental, too often it just makes my teeth hurt because its overly sweet.

I was sold, however, on The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas – it was partly the cover (yes, it’s a super cute kitten) and partly that I’m really missing my cat, Tucker, who left this world in October.  It was risky, this book, with its cute kitten cover, but it was a risk worth taking.  I enjoyed every minute of the book, although in retrospect I’m not sure it’s really a holiday book.

I remember when I was pregnant being afraid of the usual things that pregnant ladies worry about – physical disabilities, mental disabilities, congenital conditions – the list goes on.  I was especially terrified of autism because it’s always seemed such a horrible condition to me – children and adults trapped inside their own heads.  21 years later and the world is a much kinder place with regard to autism – treatment and understanding have progressed by leaps and bounds.  Julia Romp’s memoir won’t allay any fears anyone might have about autism, but her story is inspiring that all the fears seem reasonable, but in the end wholly unimportant.

Ms. Romp is a single parent raising an autistic child with little to no money and little to no help beyond her family initially.  Imagine being convinced that your child would be okay if you were a better mother, and having this thought legitimized by people in authority all around you.  It all seems so hopeless until a small black-and-white cat enters stage left bringing with him a new relationship that opens up life in an entirely new way for George, Ms. Romp’s son.  With a pull quote from Temple Grandin and a clear unflinching story, The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas will put life in perspective, give you a new sense of what courage really is, and a deeper respect for our fuzzy cat companions who really are much smarter than us.  Recommended as a great non-saccarhine holiday read.

FTC Disclosure:  Copy from publisher for review

Publishing Information:  Plume – September 25, 2012

Format:  Paperback

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