Over the Edge and Back with My Dad, My Cat and Me
by Geneen Roth
Okay, did the title have to be so long? And wasn't it long enough without a subtitle attached, too? I felt it wasn't really an apt title for the book, either. After reading the first lines: When my friend Sally called to tell me that I needed a kitten, her cat Pumpkin was pregnant, I said no, absolutely not. I didn't want a pet, I didn't like cats, and I didn't want to love anything that could die before me... I was looking forward to at least something about how Roth went from disliking cats to being so deeply attached to her "Mister Blanche". But there was none of that. After the first descriptions of how cute Blanche was as a fluffy kitten, the book suddenly skips ten years and launches into an exploration of the author's struggle to overcome years of eating disorders and emotional instability. The cat was the key to her turning point. He was the first being she could love unconditionally, without reservations. He enabled her to let down her defenses. Soon after letting Blanche into her heart, she met her boyfriend (now husband), Matt: "for continuing to beam his living light on me day after day, I thank Matt Weinstein. Blanche opened the door to my heart, and you walked through it."
Not long after that, Roth had to face the possibility of her father's death; and went through a difficult spiritual and emotional journey to finally understand the true nature of her relationship with him (it wasn't as rosy as she'd always thought). Through the heart-wrenching passage of her loss, Roth finally came to an emotional freedom she had never been able to reach with all her therapists, gurus and spiritual retreats. As if that wasn't enough, then she had to face the loss of her beloved cat. Finally, he comes back into the story at the end!
I found it particularly sad that it was love that ruined Blanche's health. He was grossly overweight because she showered him with so much luxury. He even got carried all over the house, never had to walk! All the acupuncture and holistic healers couldn't do much for his failing kidneys... if you read between the lines, this book says a lot about a spoiled rich lifestyle. But mostly it is about love, trust and parent-child relationships. The chapters are short, and written with a witty self-deprecating humor. Overall, The Craggy Hole in My Heart is a very engaging book and an easy read.
Rating: 3/5 ........ Published 2004, 238 pgs