Homer's Odyssey is a love story. Gwen Cooper's book is for all of us who loved Dewey, The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. It's this year's triumphant story of a cat overcoming great odds. Cooper subtitled the book, "A Fearless Feline Tale, Or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat." It's a story of love and faith, and growing up, for Gwen and Homer.
Dr. Patricia Khuly wrote the forward about the two-week-old kitten brought to her with an eye infection. She knew she couldn't save his eyes, but she was determined to find someone to love him, and that person was Gwen Cooper. At the time, Gwen lived in Miami with two other cats, Scarlett and Vashti, but the kitten's purr and attitude made her take him. And, through a number of moves and life changes, the kitten she named Homer gave her the confidence to move on. Cooper says, "Homer lives larger than life in my imagination, and I often think his story can only be thought of in epic terms."
From the very first, Homer needed courage to survive. But, what Gwen found in him was also a joy in life, and an openness to whatever life would bring. When she was unsure of herself, afraid to make changes, and, even afraid to let him climb and jump to high places, he taught her to have faith and confidence in life. Cooper lost jobs, moved in with her parents, and made a career change. In all of that time, she was secure in Homer's love, and his celebration of life. And, time after time, the blind cat won over friends, her parents, and others who thought a blind cat, a cat with special needs, should have been put to sleep as a kitten. But, as much love as Gwen gave Homer, he gave her so much more. She even learned habits of tidiness so Homer could more easily find his way around.
Homer is the subject of the love story, and his adventures are comic material. He's a cat who leaps five feet in the air to catch flies, an acrobatic feat even appreciated by the other cats. He was a hero who saved Gwen from a burglar, but showed her that you can't live your life in fear. His entire life was a lesson as to how Gwen should lead her own life. Homer taught her, "The world could be dangerous and bad things sometimes happened, but there was nothing you could do except live your life. And it would be foolish if, in the process of living it, you didn't also enjoy it."
The author includes quotes from Homer's The Odyssey as appropriate introductions to each chapter. She stresses the importance of the lessons she learned over time from her beloved cat. Homer's Odyssey covers over twelve years in his life and Cooper's. It takes them, and the other two cats, from Miami to New York City, through 9/11, and days Gwen spent trying to get back to the cats in her apartment just blocks from the World Trade Center. It's a joyful book, with a happy ending, because Gwen Cooper learned so much from Homer. He taught her to take leaps of faith, ones that paid off in her career and her personal life. This is a love story, in so many ways. It's a beautiful story, a book that will have you laughing and crying. This special book is the odyssey of Gwen Cooper, a life journey she could have only taken with the help of a special blind cat. Gwen Cooper's life is successful, in large part, because of Homer's Odyssey.
Gwen Cooper's website is www.gwencooper.com
Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper. Dell Publishing, ©2009. ISBN 9780385343855 (hardcover), 304p.