Title: The Five Lives of our Cat Zook
Author: Joanne Rocklin
In this warmhearted middle-grade novel, Oona and her brother, Fred, love their cat Zook (short for Zucchini), but Zook is sick. As they conspire to break him out of the vet’s office, convinced he can only get better at home with them, Oona tells Fred the story of Zook’s previous lives, ranging in style from fairy tale to grand epic to slice of life. Each of Zook’s lives has echoes in Oona’s own family life, which is going through a transition she’s not yet ready to face. Her father died two years ago, and her mother has started a relationship with a man named Dylan—whom Oona secretly calls “the villain.” The truth about Dylan, and about Zook’s medical condition, drives the drama in this loving family story.
What a sweet little book! I was completely enchanted by this story and the characters within it. As someone who just recently got a cat from the humane society, I felt a little connection to Zook and cared about him from the start. As for Oona, the main character, I will have to say it took me a bit to warm up to her. I’ll be honest, sometimes characters that are as precocious as she is tend to annoy me. But what hooked me in with her was how much she cared for her little brother! Her love for him was so strong that she wormed her way into my heart. I love how she tells these stories about Zook so her brother won’t be worried or sad – but the whole time she’s fighting the same feelings!
As far as the plot – this isn’t a story of action. It’s a story of change and acceptance of that change. Oona is holding onto the past with such force that she really fights what’s happening in her world right now. She wants nothing to do with it. It was watching her change, knowing she needed to that kept me reading. I wanted to see how she would accept the change and accept it on HER terms. She didn’t disappoint.
Final Thought: Heart. Growth. Love. What better story is there?
Best stick-with-you image: When “the villain” walks into Oona’s world
Best for readers who: Have ever loved an animal
Best for ages: 9+
For the Guys? Possibliy. Although the main character is a girl, she’s a tomboy.
And what she’s going through is something many kids can relate to.
Check out the book trailer and don't forget to read my interview with the author and enter the giveaway!