Years ago, I read Cleo, Helen Brown’s book about a cat that saved her family from a downward emotional spiral after her oldest son was hit by a car and killed. Sam had picked out the kitten two weeks before his death and it would be this cat that would become the guardian of the family, helping them through some of the toughest times of their lives. I was amazed at how quickly I got through this book and how much I could understand what had happened. The writing was exceptional and down to earth. The effect a cat can have on someone during a rough time in their lives was something I could definitely relate to.
Then came Cats & Daughters, Helen Brown’s follow-up set shortly after Cleo’s death. A new cat comes into their lives at just the right time. Jonah, a high-powered, semi-neurotic Siamese kitten comes into Helen’s life just after Helen undergoes a mastectomy and he helps her get through the recovery stage as well as the growing rift that somehow developed between Helen and her eldest daughter, Lydia. Once again, I was captivated by Helen Brown’s writing and could definitely relate to what the love of a cat can do for you and vice versa. So, when Helen Brown announced the coming of a new book about yet another special cat who touched her life in a positive way, I knew I had to read it.
Bono begins just after the publication of Cats & Daughters. Helen must begin to think about a promotion tour for her new book, but all she can seem to think about is how unsatisfied she has become of late. Things are going well with her health and her children, but it feels as though she and her husband have entered some sort of rut. Helen feels she needs a break. When the idea of a book tour in New York comes into play, she becomes extremely excited. Even better is the news that Lydia wants to accompany her on this journey – a mother/daughter trip with a chance to work on the floundering bonds between the two.
There’s only one hitch – she somehow finds herself being talked into fostering a shelter cat while in New York. Fantasizing that she will be given an older, less active cat than Jonah to foster, Helen finds more than she can imagine in the cat that she has been chosen to foster by the Manhattan Bidawee – Bono is a black Persian mix with special needs. Found living in the streets after Hurricane Sandy, Bono has kidney issues and is rather skittish with those he doesn’t know, making it difficult to get him to take his meds. He also has energy dialed up to 100 and is mostly a black blur when he isn’t hiding underneath Helen’s bed. An unlikely candidate for adoption, Helen is charged with not only fostering Bono, but with writing a blog for the Huffington Post singing the praises of fostering the young kitten with the hopes of finding him a forever home.
There is so much Helen is banking on with this trip to New York City: a better relationship with her daughter, perhaps a resolution to what might be some sort of mid-life crisis, a successful book promotion tour and a forever home for a less than desirable candidate. Helen doesn’t bank on Bono being the resolution to all of her worries and fears. Once again, Helen meets another cat that teaches her some of the most important life lessons she can ever learn, all while capturing her heart and managing to find his forever home.
I began this book on a Saturday and was halfway through it by Sunday. Helen Brown is an excellent writer – descriptive enough for the reader to picture what she is talking about in their mind’s eye, but not longwinded or flowery. Having lived and worked in New York City, I loved seeing the area through the eyes of Helen Brown and enjoyed reading about her experiences both with her daughter and without. You don’t get to see much of Bono until later, but that’s because of his skittishness. Once he does grace us with his presence, he begins to teach Helen what she needs to know about life, setting the example for her. His kidney disease means he may live a short life, depending on how resilient he can be, but Bono is determined to enjoy all life has to offer, even if a small sock is all life has to offer. Bono’s antics are adorable and I wish there were pictures in the book so I could see just what Helen Brown was seeing – a strangely shaved furball with loads of spunk who gave love on his own terms and showed Helen what was important in life.
Bono is a terrific read, especially for those of us who know just how special cats can truly be. Helen Brown has a knack for the memoir – there are serious moments, but they are interspersed with wit and happiness and most especially love. I loved this book and can’t wait to read more from Helen Brown. Keep ‘em coming!