While Chinese Whiskers can be appealing to both cat lovers and readers interested in Chinese socioeconomics and politics, I really feel it mostly appeals to feline fans. Two cats, the main characters, each speak to us in their point of view about their lives and experiences closely preceding the 2008 Beijing summer Olympic Games. Soyabean and Tofu begin life under drastically different circumstances, but come together when adopted by a foreign family living in China. Tofu begins life as a stray cat that lives in a dumpster. Soyabean’s life begins living with a grandmother who adores cats, but wishes to adopt him, her newest kitten, out. Once they come together they become caught up in exposing a poisoning scheme, and seeing that those responsible are brought to justice.
The tale touches upon the unfairness of the class structure in China. Tofu is rounded up to be euthanized when a disease believed to be caused by cats sweeps Beijing. When she is able to escape, she becomes acquainted with several poor workers who are hungry and making little money building the Olympic villages. Tofu relates to this man and wishes there was something she could do to stop injustice dealt to the poor by the hands of the extremely wealthy. Tofu and Soyabean both take down two rich, conniving men who threaten the lives of millions of cats in China; therefore, bringing hope to the impoverished people who constantly are brought down by rich companies and manufacturers.
Although the cats spend most of the book dealing with these problems, I still think it appeals more to cat lovers. Being someone who loves cats, it was a little hard to think too seriously about the story because it was told through the eyes of cats. Other bits cat lovers will enjoy is that the cats’ intense interest in the poisoning scheme involves cat food, and that there are cat gangs that roam the streets. Who couldn’t smile at a “devious” gang of cats whose main worries revolve around food? I recommend this book to anyone looking for a tale of an unlikely hero.
Interested in Chinese Whiskers? Call (856) 794-4244 ext. 4243 to put it on hold.
Kelly’s Book Review