Monday, February 8, 2016

A Gift From Bob by James Bowen

Reviewed by Jeanne

In 2007, a recovering addict in London found an injured ginger tabby and a friendship was born.  James Bowen was eking out a living busking and selling copies of the Big Issue, trying to get his life together; taking care of Bob the cat gave him purpose.  Having Bob join him on the job brought the duo attention and an eventual book deal, resulting in the international best-seller, A Street Cat Name Bob. Fans were eager for more, so other books followed, including editions aimed at children.

A Gift From Bob, the third adult book, centers around the Christmas holiday.  Christmas never held much meaning for James, shuffled as he was between parents on different continents.  Later his family relationships were strained due to his addiction, making holidays even more problematical.  From James’ point of view, Christmas was just a way of emphasizing how isolated and unimportant he was, proof that he had no place in the world.

The bulk of the book is built around James’ memories of those Christmases, especially the last one he spent on the street before his fortunes change.  Having Bob with him seemed to bring out the best in people, for the most part.  People were drawn to Bob, and their goodwill and cheer spilled over to include James. People brought Bob toys and scarves, usually slipping in something for James as well.  It was almost overwhelming.

Even though the book covers a lot of the same ground as the previous two, this book does a good job of fleshing out some of James’ back story.  His honesty about himself and his actions make him an appealing personality and does much to remind readers that even those who are homeless and substance abusers are human, too.  Belle, another recovering addict, has more of a presence in this book, clarifying her relationship with both James and Bob.

In short, this is a lovely feel-good read guaranteed to bring a smile no matter what the season.  Pen and ink sketches mostly of Bob adorn the pages, adding to the cozy feel.  Fans won’t be disappointed.

Note: a movie based on the first book is in post- production.  It stars Luke Treadaway as James.

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