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Forget Dogs – New Book Takes Cat on a Road Trip

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One of the most American experiences is the road trip, and media from around the country reflects that. We have pop ballads all about the open road, and some of the most iconic books published in the U.S. feature a lengthy trek on the way to self-discovery. Stories told about road trips stories also sometimes include a faithful dog companion to keep the human driver company. This month, a newly translated story from Japan called The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa goes a different way, telling the story of a road trip on the island nation featuring a snarky feline companion.

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When we first meet the travelling cat in question, he is a stray that lives in the human Satoru’s neighborhood and narrator of the story. The human offers some ear scratches and food, but the relationship takes a turn when a car hits the cat and he needs medical care. Satoru fixes him up and brings him home, naming him Nana, Japanese for seven, because his crooked tail looks like the number. At some point during their bliss as domestic cat and companion, Satoru needs to find a new home for Nana (but he doesn’t know why). The pair pack into his silver van to visit friends from Satoru’s past to try and find the right family for the picky Nana.

While many people consider dogs the more loving pet option, this book makes the point that a cat usually does love its human –albeit in a more reserved way. Satoru has to earn Nana’s love, and as Nana learns more about the child Satoru was and the man he has become, the bond between the two grows stronger. This is as it should for The Travelling Cat Chronicles to be a good road trip story, of course.

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If you’re interested in a road trip tale that is different than ones who have come before it, or you’re just looking for a really good book about cats to while away a rainy day, consider reading The Travelling Cat Chronicles, out now from Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House.