“Some books about animals warm your heart. Others touch your soul.” This is how I opened my my review of Gwen Cooper’s New York Times bestselling memoir Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wondercat, three weeks after it was first released in August of 2009. Little did Gwen know then how much this book would change her life. It hit the New York Times Bestseller List two weeks after its publication and was eventually translated into more than 20 different languages. Homer became a celebrity cat before there were celebrity cats, and Gwen and Homer made a difference in the lives of more special needs cats than anyone will ever know.
When Homer passed away in August of 2013 after a prolonged illness, his legion of fans and cat lovers around the world mourned with Gwen. Homer left quite a legacy, and Gwen kept his memory going through his Facebook page, which, at this time, has almost 750,000 followers.
This Tuesday, Gwen Cooper released Homer: The Ninth Life of a Blind Wonder Cat. Homer’s Odyssey covered the first twelve years of Homer’s life. This sequel covers Homer’s life after the publication of the international bestseller. We learn about what it was like for Homer and Gwen to be in the limelight, and how the duo turned their fame into a vehicle to help other special needs cats. We get to visit with Homer’s “sisters,” Scarlett and Vashti again during their final years of life, and we get to meet Clayton and Fanny, the two black kittens Gwen adopted after Homer was grief-stricken after Vashti’s passing.
Gwen wrested with writing this sequel for a long time. She wanted to tell Homer’s stories, but she was afraid that writing about him, while bringing back wonderful memories of their time together, would also bring back the pain of the hard times at the end, and she wasn’t sure whether she could bear it. Instead, Gwen found that “in writing the book, I’ve gotten to live with Homer again.” But sharing more of Homer wasn’t the only reason why Gwen wrote the sequel. She also wanted to bring clarity to some of the issues all cat parents struggle with: caring for older, often ill or frail cats, and the end-of-life issues that we all have to eventually face with our cats.
Despite the fact that there are, of course, some sad passages in the book, this is by no means a sad book. There are plenty of moments that will make you smile or even laugh out loud as Gwen relays stories of Homer’s photo shoots, his relationship with his sisters, and his dining preferences, which Gwen’s husband Laurence catered to as befits a star like Homer. But what really makes this book special is the way it touches the reader’s heart in a profound and lasting way. The best writers paint pictures with their words. Gwen does so much more with this book. She paints an exquisite picture of her own heart, and by sharing the depth of both her joy and her grief, leaves the reader transformed.
Ultimately, this book is a love story – a love story about Homer, and, by extension, about every cat who has ever changed a human’s life. “The greatest gift Homer left me with when he left me for good was fresh evidence every day – every single day – of the innate goodness of most people, even when news headlines make it far too easy to conclude otherwise,” writes Gwen in the final chapter of the book. That’s what these special cats do for us – and it’s something we need now more than ever.
It is also available in print and ebook format via http://www.HiHomer.com. The ebook will be available in formats compatible with Kindle, Nook, the free-and-super-easy Gumroad app (which works beautifully on smartphones and iPads), and also as a simple PDF doc that can open on any computer. If you purchase via Gumroad, it will automatically deliver all these files and you can then use whichever file you prefer.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author. Receiving the free copy did not influence my review. This post contains Amazon Associate links. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.