Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Homer's Odyssey" A Book by Gwen Cooper That Should Be In Your Must Read "CAT"egory

There are books that I have liked, books that I have loved and books that have touched me on so many levels that they fall into a category of their own, something deeper than just loving, something that wrapped itself around my soul, holding on tight, where it is destined to remain with me forever. "Homer's Odyssey" by Gwen Cooper is one of these books.

This book is not just for cat lovers. As Gwen states in her prologue, "so this book is for the others like me, but also for the ones who've given up on believing in everyday miracles and heroes; for people who love cats and for people who consider themselves firmly anti-cat, for those who think NORMAL and IDEAL mean the same thing, and for those who know that sometimes, stepping slightly to the left of what's normal can enrich your whole life"

Gwen stepped more than just "slightly to the left" when she adopted Homer, a cat who suffered from a condition that left him blind at just a few weeks of age. He had literally been dumped at the vet by individuals who felt strongly he should be euthanized.

Thankfully the young and idealistic vet (Patricia Khuly, VMD, MBA, Miami Fla) lived and practiced the belief of "if the animal is afflicted yet healable-and even remotely adoptable-"it's meant to be we reason".


Gwen already had two cats (the beautiful "Vashti" and the oh-so-misunderstood "Scarlett") and barely enough money to support herself or her cats when her veterinarian approached her hoping she would adopt the sightless Homer. Gwen did adopt Homer but not for the first reason that probably came into your mind (pity) but because as Gwen said "this kitten was a creature with a tremendous capacity for love. He wasn't scared or desperate to be loved, the way you would expect a kitten or even a person who'd experienced nothing but pain, hunger and fear to be" "In addition to not knowing he was blind, Homer had also clearly never been informed of his "under achiever" status".

"Fortune Favors The Brave" is a recurring theme in this touching story. Not just for Homer, (oh yes he could catch and destroy flies he could not see with a single leap, he could scale the most intimidating furniture, protect Gwen and ultimately quite possibly have saved her life (you'll have to read the book to find out more about this!), explore with a fearlessness and agility that even the most daring of cats would envy), but for Gwen as well. Through her life with Homer, Gwen exhibited her own style of bravery through events that would unravel the best of us. Gwen and Homer weren't just experiencing an individual odyssey. Each one was a necessary component to the quest for what an odyssey actually is, "an extended adventurous voyage or trip, an intellectual or spiritual quest" "An ODYSSEY of discovery, it is usually marked by many changes of fortune."

There is not a pet lover, a mother of a child, or a mother of a special needs child who cannot relate to the fierce protectiveness that Gwen exhibited if she felt Homer and her other two cats were threatened.

Some quotes from Homer's Odyssey that really struck home with me were:

"Sometimes, to get the things that were good in life, you had to make a blind leap"


"Sometimes the thing you were looking for could only be found in the very last place you would have expected"


"When you see something so fundamentally worthwhile in somebody else, you don't look for all the reasons that might keep it out of your life. You commit to being strong enough to build your life around it, no matter what."

Back in 2001 I took the biggest "leap of faith" in my life. I left a job I had for 21 and a half years to move from Ohio to Michigan, a place where I had no family or friends but knew I had to be in order to give a relationship a chance with a man who later became my husband.

It was a terrifying decision to ponder, but in my heart I knew it was a necessary decision. The decision changed my life in many ways, it opened me to people, places, experiences I may have never met or otherwise had if I had not left my "comfort zone".

Through having the courage to make a change and experience various job endings it has shown me I possess a strength I never knew I had. (Oh yes I was always a determined cuss but this was different!) It hasn't been easy, the old adage is true, " nothing worth having in life comes easily". It has led me to hopefully a new future as a freelance writer (who'd a thunk it after having spent 20+ years in advertising?)
Cody looking at his hero, "Homer"

As Gwen said about Homer, "Homer had taught me that there was great joy to be found in great risks." "For he is "El Mocho", the cat without fear", I say thank you to Gwen for sharing the story of "Homer's Odyssey".

"Eres Mucho Gato"
 "Thou art plenty of cat"

To learn more about Gwen Cooper
Or to Purchase "Homer's Odyssey"

28 comments:

  1. What a wonderful review. I, too, loved Homer's Odyssey. I was particularly touched by Gwen's experience on 9/11 - she lived through every pet parents' nightmare when she couldn't get to her apartment and her cats after the attack.

    Love the photo of Cody reading - he looks very intent!

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  2. I heard about this book via NHPR and I still haven't gotten my hands on this wonderful book (I have a stack of books on my nightstand that is slowly whittling down) and now that you've reminded me about this book I will put it at the top of my pile of books soon!

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  3. Ingrid thanks very much for your kind words! Shhhhh....I deliberately didn't mention that part of the book!!! Oh well!! That is ok! lol

    Yes my Cody was quite taken with Homer. He looks up to kitties that are fearless. I used to think that my Cody was fearless until I met Homer. Homer=fearless.

    Thanks for reading and for commenting!

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  4. @The Teacher's Pets, YES, YES, YES you must! Push this to the top of your stack, you will be so glad that you did!

    Thanks very much for stopping by and for commenting. I hope that you will stop by again!

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  5. This is definitely going on my reading list. Thank you for an excellent review of this book.

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  6. Pumpkin I am so happy! Please let me know what you thought of it when you finish it. I was soooo in love with this book!

    Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by as well!

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  7. I just began reading this book last night. Even though I'm only on Chapter 3, I am enjoyingit very much and find it an amazing book. So hpapy to hear you enjoyed it too and recommend it.

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  8. Ohhhh Mario you will love it! I know you will! It touched me so much that honestly I could have written pages and pages about it but...this IS a blog and nobody wants to read a tome on it lol.
    Thanks so much for reading and stopping by!

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  9. WOW, just an amazing story, so glad to see this -will definately check it out!! What great people there are in the world :) Ms. Z.

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  10. Yes Ms.Z you definitely have to! Haven't been this touched by a book in quite a while. Believe me you will enjoy it. My husband read it too and he isn't nearly the "cat person" that I am and he loved it!
    Thanks for reading and for commenting!

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  11. Sounds like a keeper! If only I could make time for any book this summer!

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  12. @Life With Dogs if you can't read it this summer DEFINITELY put it on your Fall/Winter list. It is a quick read and you will be so captivated that you will not want to put it down.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and for commenting!

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  13. It is with great shame that I admit that this book is not (yet) in my collection. I'm afraid it will be a while before I get to it, but ever since I learned about Nyx the blind library cat, I've been fascinated by the resourcefulness of blind cats. Not that I should be surprised, since cats are very adaptable, but blind cats are amazing.

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  14. Kurt it needs to move to the top of your "must read" list! It isn't just a book about a blind cat...trust me.....
    Thanks for commenting and reading and get out and get the book!

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  15. I first read this book last fall and have been following the adventures of Gwen and her cats ever since at her website. Apparently, Homer is now the star of a comicbook, as well!!

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  16. Anonymous thanks so much for reading and for commenting! I have been visiting Gwen's blog recently and I cannot find a way to "follow" it. Is there a way to "follow" that I am not aware of?
    Hope you will stop by again!
    Oh forgot to say I saw that a comicbook is coming as well as you mentioned. Too cool!

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  17. Thanks for following my blog, Caren. I'll have to read that book about Homer.

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  18. I loooooooooved this book! Loved, loved, loved! One of my favorite books ever, and not just because it's about a cat. I loved Dewey and thought there was no way it could be beat, but Gwen and Homer did it!

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  19. Cathy you are welcome! I do my best to keep up with the ones I am following, I try really hard to read them all but I know you know how hard that is!
    Yes please do read Homer's book you will LOVE IT!! Let me know what you think of it when you do!
    Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!

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  20. @YourDailyCute, my husband read "Dewey" I have had it here for a year and haven't read it yet. Now that you said Gwen and Homer beat out "Dewey" not sure that I want to read it but probably will!
    Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!

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  21. It's indeed a wonderful book review. Thanks for sharing the book with us and Homer's Odyssey is definitely in my reading list now. What I've to do is to get it from the bookshop soon.

    We've been reading a lot of books about dogs and The Art of Racing in the Rain is one of our favourites but this time, I'll keep the cat books in my shelf too!!!

    Thanks again, Caren. You're really wonderful and you're very brave. By leaving your old comfort-zone, you've found a new and more interesting life : )

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  22. Caren -- I have no doubt that Homer is more than just a book about a blind cat, but even it were, I'd be OK with that! Oh, and you have to read Dewey.

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  23. It really is true how certain pieces of literary work can reach and and grab your soul; it's especially true when it comes to animals being involved. This is a great post and certainly makes me want to pick up a copy of the book. Thank you for sharing.

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  24. Priscilla your words were beautiful and I thank you! Yes it is true, I am greatly enjoying what I am doing and that is what is most important. I can read emails, comments, etc from early morning til late at night and it doesn't feel like "work" because I enjoy it so. Thank you!
    I also read "The Art of Racing In The Rain", I enjoyed it but found it very unsettling. It really depressed me. I read it fairly soon after my cat passed so that could have something to do with it. Homer was very uplifting to me and had positive messages throughout which really struck a chord with me.

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  25. Kurt I PROMISE you I will read Dewey! My husband keeps bugging me about it because it has been sitting on a shelf for I swear over a year! I will read it though! :)

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  26. Danielle thank you so much for your kind words! I am so glad you enjoyed the review and I am certain you will enjoy the book far more!
    Please let me know what you thought of it after you read it!
    Thanks so much to you and everyone for stopping by and for commenting, it is deeply appreciated!

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  27. Wonderful review, I think Gwen will be very happy. It's so great you have this blog!

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  28. Kokoro thank you! YES I am BEYOND THRILLED to say that Gwen truly seemed to like the review and it made me very, very happy! She is a talented author and a wonderful purrson. I was honored to have met her! Thank you sooo very much for your kind words about the blog!
    It brings me great joy, especially when kitties like you (and their hoomans) are kind enough to read and leave a comment! It makes me purr!

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