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The tumultuous life of a cat spans the equally turbulent lives of the mother and daughter who share her always-changing New York City existence.

Prudence the tabby never expected to find the right human. Living alone in a deserted construction site on the Lower East Side, she's drawn first to Sarah's singing: As a feral kitten, music is new to her. And while she quickly gets used to the idea of having a "roommate," as she puts it, Sarah's irregular lifestyle means that meals can't be counted on. When Sarah finally disappears one day, Prudence is taken in by Laura, Sarah's daughter, and her husband and trades a bohemian existence for more conventional comforts. But as the tabby learns, even life on the Upper West Side can have its ups and downs. Not only does she witness the aftereffects of Sarah and Laura's often strained relationship, she runs into danger in the form of an innocent-seeming bouquet. Initially presented in the first-person by the cat, this book by Cooper (Homer's Odyssey, 2009achieves a matter-of-fact directness that only occasionally veers into cutesiness ("[S]ometimes Sarah eats things that are just plain gross. There's one kind of food, called 'cookies'...") But Prudence's scope is insufficient to convey the entirety of this New-York-in-the-'90s saga, and by the book's second half, human narratives begin to take over. While these are often affecting—relating the different sides of the mother–daughter struggle—they seem to come from a different book. And real-life events, notably the city-ordered demolition of a tenement with some of the occupants' pets left inside, are not convincingly woven into the narrative. The result is moving but uneven, and even a feel-good ending from the cat's viewpoint can't pull the story back together.

The follow-up to an international best-seller starts off well but falls apart under its own best intentions.

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-345-52694-6
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2012