A delectable sense of humour makes this first-person narrative absolutely pulse with (alien) life. On the eve of their 300th birthdays, all aliens from the narrator’s home planet have the opportunity to spend a month on Earth as a creature, and Leonard chooses to be a ranger in Yellowstone National Park in America. Except that, on the way, something goes wrong, and now he’s a cat in South Carolina. Luckily for Leonard, he’s adopted by a girl called Olive, who embraces animals, and even aliens.
Sorosiak’s first novel, I Cosmo, also starred an animal narrator, and focussed on the healing and beneficial relationship that can ensue between animal and human. Here, in My Life as a Cat, she develops the idea further, exploring friendship, grief, and the passing of time, and immortality, all the while extrapolating what it must feel like to be a cat, albeit a highly intelligent communicative one, with an alien hive mind.
Leonard longs to experience the simple pleasures of Earth, and Sorosiak delights in bringing these small innocent moments to life, showing that for humans too, it’s the little things in life, such as cheese sandwiches or a trip to the cinema, that can have a stunning effect on feelings and memories.
Olive, Leonard’s adoptive human, is tenderly drawn. She is shy and animal-obsessed, but also dealing with a tumult of family relations, and lack of self-confidence. Of course, her development is tracked throughout the novel, and, helped by responsible and reliable adults, she comes to see that what’s important is kindness and open-mindedness.
The build-up to the climax, a race-against-time road trip, is told in accessible and wryly funny prose, and is incredibly compelling, whilst also managing to impart a wealth of knowledge to the reader about storms, animals, aquariums and more – showing life on Earth in all its wondrous depth. This novel shows us what it means to experience true friendship and sacrifice, to understand what makes someone feel like they belong, and above all what it means to be human. With a sly nod to ET, and an understanding of a child’s wonder at life, this is a moving story written with heart and compassion.