The cat that Olive rescues from a flood has a secret: he’s not really a cat at all, but an alien who crashed to Earth on a beam of light. The cat, whom Olive names Leonard, was prepared to visit the planet as a human—but something went wrong. Now Leonard may never know what it’s like to hold an umbrella, go bowling, or host a dinner party. (And his human jokes still need some work: Knock, knock. Who’s there? Just Leonard. It is me.) While Olive worries about whether she will have to move after her mom and her new boyfriend get back from their summer vacation, Leonard tries to figure out how to get from South Carolina to Yellowstone National Park, because if he’s not there at the end of the month, he’ll miss his ride home. But as Olive teaches Leonard about the beautiful and confusing world of humans, he starts to realize how much he cares about this particular one. A sweet and dryly funny story about what it means to be human—and what it means to be home.
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|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||8 - 12 Years|
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Humans have it all wrong about aliens. Sometimes I see images of us on television—with enormous eyes, with skin the color of spring leaves—and I wonder: Who thought of this? What reason could they have? Olive always tells me not to watch those shows. “You’ll just give yourself bad dreams,” she says. So we switch off the TV and curl up by the window, listening to the gentle hush of waves.
But the truth is, I really don’t belong here—not permanently, not forever. That’s why we’re traveling in this Winnebago, zooming down dark roads at midnight. Olive is wearing her frayed overalls, and she’s cradling me in her arms.
I don’t squirm. I don’t scratch. I am not that type of cat.
“You won’t forget me,” she says, pressing her forehead to mine. “Please promise you won’t.”
She smells of cinnamon toast and raspberry shampoo. There are daisy barrettes in her hair. And for a second, I consider lying to her—out of love. The words are right there: I will always remember. I could never forget. But I’ve been honest with her this whole time, and the rules of intergalactic travel are clear.
Tomorrow, I will forget everything I’ve ever felt.
In my mind, Olive will exist only as data, as pure information. I’ll remember her daisy barrettes, our Saturday afternoons by Wrigley Pier—but not how it felt to share a beach towel, or read books together, or fall asleep under the late June sun. And Olive doesn’t deserve that. She is so much more than a collection of facts.
Halfheartedly, I summon a purr. It rattles weakly in my chest.
“You get to go home,” Olive says, the ghost of a smile on her face. “Home.”
The Winnebago speeds faster, then faster still. Outside, the sky is full of stars. And I want to communicate that I will miss this—feeling so small, so earthly. Am I ready to go back? Half of me is. And yet, when I close my eyes, I picture myself clinging to the walls of this motor home.
Olive sets me down on the countertop, the plastic cool under my paws. Opening her laptop, she angles the keyboard toward me, a gesture that says, Type, will you? But I shake my head, fur shivering.
“You don’t want to talk?” she asks.
What can I say? I owe it to Olive not to make this any harder. So I won’t use the computer. I won’t tell her what I’ve been hoping—to maybe carry one thing back. Maybe if I concentrate hard enough, a part of Olive will imprint on a part of me, and I will remember how it felt. How it felt to know a girl once.
“Okay,” she says, shutting her laptop with a sigh. “At least eat your crunchies.”
So I eat my crunchies. They’re trout-flavored and tangy on my tongue. I chew slowly, savoring the morsels. This is one of my last meals as a cat.
I haven’t always lived in this body. Leonard wasn’t always my name.
Olive pats my head as I lick the bowl clean. “I know you didn’t want to be a cat,” she says, so softly that my ears prick to hear her, “but you are a very, very good cat.”
I want the computer now. My paws are itching to type: You are a very, very good human. Because she is. And she will be, long after I’m gone.
If you allow yourself, you might like our story. It’s about cheese sandwiches and an aquarium and a family. It has laughter and sadness and me, learning what it means to be human.
On my journey to Earth, I was supposed to become human.
That is where I’ll begin.