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I don’t often re-read books, but there are a few cat books that have left such an impression on me, I periodically re-read them. I recently picked up Gwen Coopers’ Love Saves the Day, and I thought it was time to share it with you again. This is one of a handful of special books that don’t come along very often.
Love Saves the Day is a novel written from three points of view. The primary narrator is Prudence, a brown tabby rescued from a deserted construction site on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Prudence is a keen observer of humans and knows them better than they know themselves at times. Gwen’s love for cats and understanding of their nature and emotional lives, tempered with a sense of humor, is evident throughout the book.
Loves Saves the Day begins when one day Sarah, Prudence’s human, doesn’t come home from work. Prudence’s world falls apart. For a few days, a neighbor feeds her, then Sarah’s daughter Laura, who hardly ever came to visit, arrives with her husband. Suddenly, Prudence finds herself living in an unfamiliar apartment with two humans who she barely knows, and who don’t seem to understand cats.
Prudence spends most of her days near the boxes with Sarah’s things in a spare bedroom in the new apartment, grieving for Sarah, trying to hang on to her memories and find comfort by being close to the things that still smell like Sarah. Meanwhile, Laura tries to push away anything that reminds her of her mother and her childhood spent in the midst of the Lower East Side music scene of the 1970s. Told from the three alternating points of view – Prudence’s, Laura’s and Sarah’s – the past of a troubled mother-daughter relationship is revealed, culminating in one defining moment that changes the trajectory of everyone’s lives.
Gwen presents a lot of different topics in this novel: the heartbreaking issue of what happens to pets when their humans die, the music scene of the 1970s in Lower Manhattan, the real life event of a building on the Lower East Side that was demolished in 1998 and plays a pivotal role in the story, and a complicated mother daughter relationship that crosses several decades. Cooper weaves all of these threads into a beautiful, cohesive whole.
This hauntingly beautiful story about grief, hope and healing touched me just as much this time as it has every other time I’ve read this book. This is a book that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.
Love Saves the Day is available from Amazon.
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