Firstly, a huge thank you to the author for sending me a copy of her novel in exchange for an honest review.
A girl struggling to fit in. A homeless kitten. An unexpected job offer in an unfamiliar country that changes everything.GoodReads
CJ had a long history of escaping places and people she wasn’t fond of. But for the sake of a silver tabby, she decided to stay in Japan for a while. This decision helped her open up her heart and mind, revisit her way of thinking, and reconnect with her estranged family.
It was really interesting to read CJ’s experiences of Japan. I really enjoyed how honest she was throughout the book especially with the struggles she had the first time she lived in Japan. I have always been aware of what the work ethic is like in Japan, however I didn’t know much about the different teaching centres or how they worked. It is very different from the experiences that I have read about, and heard about, in the past. I had also never heard of British Hills before, which also seemed like a strange (but more fun) teaching job and I liked being able to experience this through the well written descriptions.
I loved reading about all the different cats that entered CJ’s life, especially Gershwin of course, it was very clear to see why he left such a lasting impression on her that she just had to take him with her on her travels. The way CJ described each of the cats you could clearly see their different personalities and how they were very much part of the family more than just roommates in Takayama. Although CJ had her struggles in Japan, she would draw strength from the cats as well as her other experiences to get her to confront her constant running away.
Throughout the book Fentiman also shares her experiences and knowledge of different Japanese events and customs, which are a great introduction for people who don’t know much about the culture. I loved reading about the different festivals and events, it felt as though you were there with them. Although Fentiman’s descriptive writing was great to read and perfect for offering an escape, especially when we can only dream about travelling right now, there were occasions where it seemed a little repetitive and I would have liked some other parts expanded upon. However, as this is a memoir, rather than a work of fiction, it makes sense that there would be some things that are only briefly mentioned to the reader or why things seem like they’re in an odd order as life experiences aren’t always as neat and linear as fictional ones.
Overall, this was a really nice read that not only made me nostalgic for my trips to Japan but introduced me to a new way of looking at life in the country as a foreigner too. I hope Fentiman continues to write and tries her hand at fiction next! This novel is definitely worth checking out and I’m sure you will find it as interesting, inspiring, and uplifting as I did.