Thursday, November 2, 2017

Review/Interview/Giveaway: The Astonishing Thing by Sandi Ward

In her inventive, sometimes bittersweet, ultimately uplifting debut, Sandi Ward draws readers into one extraordinary cat’s quest to make sense of her world, illuminating the limits and mysterious depths of love . . .

Pet owners know that a cat’s loyalty is not easily earned. Boo, a resourceful young feline with a keen eye and inquiring mind, has nonetheless grown intensely devoted to her human companion, Carrie. Several days ago, Carrie—or Mother, as Boo calls her—suddenly went away, leaving her family, including Boo, in disarray. Carrie’s husband, Tommy, is distant and distracted even as he does his best to care for Boo’s human siblings, especially baby Finn.

Boo worries about who will fill her food dish, and provide a warm lap to nestle into. More pressing still, she’s trying to uncover the complicated truth about why Carrie left. Though frequently mystified by human behavior, Boo is sure that Carrie once cared passionately for Tommy and adores her children, even the non-feline ones. But she also sees it may not be enough to make things right. Perhaps only a cat—a wise, observant, very determined cat—can do that . . .

Wonderfully tender and insightful, The Astonishing Thing explores the intricacies of marriage and family through an unforgettable perspective at the center of it all.

I don't read a lot of women's fiction, but when a story is told from the unique perspective of the family cat, count me in. The Astonishing Thing takes readers inside the mind of Boo, a young cat whose perfect, peaceful existence crumbles when her human mother leaves home and doesn't come back. With a mixture of innocence and wisdom Boo quietly watches her family's day to day life as they struggle to come to terms with their "new normal". The full scope of what this family has endured behind closed doors is revealed slowly as the novel progresses and Boo transitions her feelings of abandonment to understanding, forming new bonds with what's left of her family. My own thoughts about each member of the family changed as the story progressed but Boo captured my heart from the first page and I only grew to love her more. This precious little being only wants to heal the brokenness that surrounds her, a nearly impossible job for anyone, but even more so when you're the smallest member of the family. The Astonishing Thing will leave you looking at your cat in a whole new light. It's purrfect in every way.

Interview with author Sandi Ward

What made you decide to write The Astonishing Thing completely from a cat’s point of view?

I thought it would fun to write from an unexpected point of view. Pets see everything, witnessing all of the behind-the-scenes stuff we sometimes hide from the outside world. Yet they love us anyway! So I wanted to explore that dynamic from a cat’s viewpoint.

Did it end up being more difficult than you had originally thought?

I didn’t find it too hard because I’ve always been a cat person. Boo has an attitude that I think cat owners will recognize. I imagine most people think of their cats as loving—but with a sassy side.

Tell us about the cats in your life: fictional feline Boo, and your own cat Winnie.

Boo is a big, beautiful cat who has been very spoiled by her human mother. When her mother disappears one day, Boo is devastated. She doesn’t know how she’s going to survive. Boo can be snippy sometimes. She feels abandoned and sorry for herself. But the truth is, she’s stronger than she thinks.

My own cat Winnie is a large cat, much like Boo. Come to think of it, she’s pretty spoiled too! She’s a rescue cat from the SPCA, very loyal and calm.

How do you hope readers look at their cats differently after reading your book?

This book might remind readers that when a family is under stress, or going through changes, the pets can feel that anxiety. They’re like children. Boo has the understanding of a 10-year old girl; she understands most of what the humans are going through, but not all of it. Their actions impact her tremendously.

What are you working on now? Do you plan to continue writing cat-centric novels?

Yes—my next novel, SOMETHING WORTH SAVING (Kensington Books, November 2018), will also be told from the point of view of a cat. But it will be a different cat, named Lily.

Lily is best friends with Charlie, a 14-year old boy who has been coming home with bruises. Lily embarks on a quest to find out who is bullying him and put a stop to it. But she ends up realizing her family may have more serious problems than she first understood.

About the author: Sandi Ward grew up in Manchester-By-The-Sea, Massachusetts. She attended Tufts University, and received her MA in Creative Writing at New York University, where she studied with E.L. Doctorow. She now lives on the Jersey Shore with her husband, teenagers, dog and a big black cat named Winnie. Sandi is a medical writer at an ad agency in New Jersey, specializing in psychiatry and pain management.

Her first novel for Kensington Books is titled THE ASTONISHING THING (available October 31, 2017). Her second novel is titled SOMETHING WORTH SAVING (available November 2018).

Stay in touch:

Learn more at:                                    

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. This post contains affiliate links.


Katie and The Katz said...

I love the idea of this book and will definitely find a copy to read! Hope I get the give away! This book would really inspire me to finish writing my own novels... -Purrz from Katie Kat.

The Menagerie Mom said...

This is such an ingenious idea for a book. And it is so true that "pets see everything", and I love that this concept was then put into a kitty's perspective. Thank you for sharing this wonderful review with us, Mudpie and Melissa!

Katie and The Katz said...

My favorite cat book was a science fiction anthology of short stories with cat themes. I can't remember the name of the book - hope it is packed away in a box somewhere... MOL. My favorite story was the one where the cat helped the lady find hurting animals. He was empathic - brought tears to my eyes and seemed so believable. The cat reminded me of Jason, one of my first cats. Boo in the novel remindes me of Jason too, always wanting to hold his family together. He would cry when we argued. So sweet boy. I miss him so much. -Katie.

Autumn Trapani said...

This book is on my TBR list and sounds wonderful! Thanks for the interview and the giveaway.

traveler said...

My favorite cat book is Shades of Grey by Clea Simon. Captivating and wonderful. Thanks for this lovely feature and giveaway.

Eastside Cats said...

This book sounds like a terrific read!!! Do I have room for another cat book on my*pushes a few books under the bed* YEP, there's room!

da tabbies o trout towne said...

winnie; you are a gorgeous gal !! we will check out "your" book ☺☺ great interview today mudpie ! ☺☺♥♥

pilch92 said...

This looks like a good book. Hard to choose a favorite, but I will say the 3 books about Norton the Scottish Fold cat.

diannekc said...

My favorite fictional cat is Mrs. Murphy in the Sneaky Pie Mysteries by Rita Mae Brown. Really like that this written from the cat's point of view. I'm a cat person too and I'm looking forward to reading the book.

diannekc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lola The Rescued Cat said...

This sounds like a wonderful book! Our mom loves books that are written from the cat's perspective.

biggie55 said...

I love so many, but if i have to choose one its "the Inner Life of Cats" by Thomas McNamee.

Maria said...

I've never read a cat book, except Tom Kitten as a child! Your cat Winnie looks like a sweetie!

Marla Bradeen/Paige Sleuth, Mystery Author said...

This book sounds so interesting! I don't really have a favorite cat book as there are so many to choose from, so I'll just pick one I enjoy: the Cat Who series.

Jana Leah B said...

I love Miranda James' Cat in the Stacks series.

Jamie Rasmussen said...

My favorite cat book is Escape Claws by Linda Reilly.