REVIEW: Bono by Helen Brown
When Helen Brown arrived in New York for a much-anticipated visit, a fellow animal lover talked her into fostering a shelter cat. Helen visualized a sweet-natured cuddler who blinked and dozed a lot. What she got at Manhattan’s Bideawee shelter was a wide-eyed and unpredictable Persian with a punked-out haircut and a feisty attitude.
Bono had become homeless during Hurricane Sandy, had survived a serious infection, and needed daily medications. As a “special needs” cat, he was an unlikely candidate for adoption. But as affection between them grew, Helen resolved to see that Bono found his forever home. She didn’t know that he would change her life in ways she never dreamed possible and teach her lessons she would cherish ever after. Just as this sweet, beleaguered, and hopeful guy deserved a fresh start, Helen too was ready for new beginnings. And so began a heartwarming, uplifting, lasting kind of love . . .
The author will donate a portion of her earnings from this book to BideaWee animal shelter and hospital. Learn what you can do to help at www.bideawee.org.
I have Persian cats – or should I say Persian cats have me. I’ve almost conquered my instinct to want to read books with cute dogs/puppies on the cover but I’m still in thrall to books with cats/kittens beckoning me. Yes, go ahead and say those are my catnip. So mix this in with a story about helping a homeless cat find a new cat slave and I’m in. This book is that but unfortunately that turned out to be more a background, white noise than the central part of the story.
Helen Brown, author of several books about cats, seems to be going through a late mid-life crisis. Her marriage seems to be stale and she grabs at the chance to spend a month in New York City to promote her latest book. Never mind that her husband – from her own description – is a kind, dependable and devoted man. No, she needs the freedom of never stops, all the shopping and shows you could want, OMG NYC! Her editor comes up with the idea of Helen fostering a cat presumably left homeless after Hurricane Sandy. Helen is less than enthused but goes along with the plan because finding a month long lease in NYC at a pet friendly place? Never going to happen.
Only it does and as Helen’s daughter – whom Helen has asked to accompany her for 10 days in a bid to resurrect their relationship – is gung ho about the idea, Helen must go along. Okay, so they’ll foster an older, placid kitty and also get to check out Broadway shows and Manhattan shopping; yeah she can do that for a month. Too bad that the devoted people at Bideawee shelter didn’t get the mental message and supply Helen with that kind of cat.
Bono turns out to be a cat with special needs. Found after the storm, his fur so badly matted that he needed a lion cut, he is beloved by the shelter staff but his medical condition – he has kidney disease – has rendered him difficult to adopt. Anyone who takes him on will be facing medical bills and the knowledge that he probably only has 3 or so years to live. Though he’s at ease at the shelter, Helen and her daughter soon discover that he’s skittish and reserved once they get him to their Airbnb apartment. Lydia wins Bono over but he’s still not sure about Helen. Will her blog posts stir up attention for his plight and find him a home?
Yes, Bono and his need for a home are a thread in this narrative but honestly most of it is about Helen working through her issues. Part of this is how does a long married couple keep the spark lit in their relationship. Her husband is a saint, IMO, who not only doesn’t appear to mind the fact that she wants to fly around the world and stay for a month or more – more if she can manage it, but who actually ends up helping her facilitate her month of freedom.
Helen explores NYC to her heart’s content and eventually is accepted by Bono but despairs of anyone stepping forward and moving past wanting to adopt him to actually doing it. The whole “Bono helps Helen learn life lessons” part of the plot is, I’m sorry to say, not front and center. While this might actually be what happened, the book makes it seem like wandering around NYC is what gives Helen her insight instead of the cat teaching her anything. It’s sweet in that Bono does get his forever home – and what a home it is – but to me the book is much more about Helen and less about the cat. B-