On Israel's West Bank, a cat sneaks into a small Palestinian house that has just been commandeered by two Israeli soldiers. The house seems empty, until the cat realises that a little boy is hiding beneath the floor-boards. Should she help him? After all, she's just a cat. Or is she?
It turns out that this particular cat is not used to thinking about anyone but herself. She was once a regular North American girl who only had to deal with normal middle-school problems - staying under the teachers' radar, bullying her sister and the uncool kids, outsmarting her clueless parents. But that was before she died and came back to life as a cat, in a place with a whole different set of rules for survival.
When the little boy is discovered, the soldiers don't know what to do with him. Where are the child's parents? Why has he been left alone in the house? It is not long before his teacher and classmates come looking for him, and the house is suddenly surrounded by Palestinian villagers throwing rocks, and the sound of Israeli tanks approaching.
Not my business, thinks the cat. Then she sees a photograph, and suddenly understands what happened to the boy's parents, and why they have not returned.
As the soldiers begin to panic, disaster seems certain, and she knows that it is up to her to defuse the situation. But what can a cat do? What can any one creature do?
The Cat at the Wall is the story of Clare, before and after the accident.
The story moves between her life as a Year 8 American girl dealing with a strict English teacher who wants her to do her best. Her teacher’s punishment for her students not behaving is to have them write out Desiderata.
This punishment increases by one repetition each day, to the point where Clare has to write it out 80 times in a now, by far the worst in the class. This hasn’t decreased much when she is hit by a truck, and her next life begins.
The other half of Clare’s story is her life as a cat, living at the wall which divides Palestine and Israel. She is involved in a siege in a house where two Israeli soldiers invade to do reconnaissance not knowing that a young boy is inside. When he is discovered he recites
Desiderata, something he was taught at school. Will he and the soldiers come out alive? What can Clare the cat do to help?
This is a marvellous way to look at conflict and how it is addressed and explores some of the many affects of conflict. It makes you wonder isn’t there something we can do to avoid disharmony?
It is a particularly easy read with a simple but important message that should be read by every child 11-15. A great story.
Reviewed by Rob