Friday, September 16, 2016

Book Review: The Rabbi's Cat

I am not sure what I expected out of this graphic novel, but what I got was a major disappointment. I was hoping for something more, it is a religious novel, but I felt it lacking in a lot of ways. I may receive hate for this review, but I promise to always be honest. 

A little-widowed rabbi, his daughter, and their adorable cat live in Algeria. This book is supposed to be a lesson on Judaism and a spin on a religious tale. This novel is woven together carefully and is beautifully written. The author uses a cat, who has eaten the family parrot, and is now able to talk, ask questions, and challenge the Jewish faith. This is brought to the attention of the rabbi. There is a lesson on lying which I very much enjoyed. 

I hated the part where the cat is no longer allowed to spend time with the Rabbi's daughter, whom he really is close with. This is due to him being a bad influence. He eventually asks how he can be with her again. I disliked this because I believe you should be able to question your beliefs, I completely understand that the cat lied and was mischievous but I feel like it really creates an unhealthy shelter. 

I believe if anything this really opens a great discussion on faith and the matters that come with that issue. Religion is a touchy subject, I am glad that graphic novels are starting to take on these challenges. 

With all the negative things I have pointed out, let me now tell you what I love about this book. The author can write, the passion and beautiful storytelling is extremely prominent throughout. I enjoyed the words and description used. I was never bored at all. 

The second thing that I loved about this was the art. It was gorgeous and so very colorful. I enjoyed the scenes. The artist Joann Sfar has his own style. Something that is completely original and easily identified. You know exactly who drew these expressionistic images. They are realistic, but also very abstract and cartoonish. It isn't overdone, it isn't underdone, it is just perfect.

Overall this is a book I believe you should check out. While I didn't like the graphic novel,  you may love it. I was really glad to pick this up at my college library. I will try to find the second one soon. 

Author:  Joann Sfar 
Illustrator:  Joann Sfar 
Publisher: Pantheon
Publishing Date: May 22nd, 2007
Pages: 152
Source: College Library
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Goodreads Description: 

The preeminent work by one of France’s most celebrated young comics artists, The Rabbi’s Cat tells the wholly unique story of a rabbi, his daughter, and their talking cat–a philosopher brimming with scathing humor and surprising tenderness. 

In Algeria in the 1930s, a cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter, Zlabya, eats the family parrot and gains the ability to speak. To his master’s consternation, the cat immediately begins to tell lies (the first being that he didn’t eat the parrot). The rabbi vows to educate him in the ways of the Torah, while the cat insists on studying the kabbalah and having a Bar Mitzvah. They consult the rabbi’s rabbi, who maintains that a cat can’t be Jewish–but the cat, as always, knows better. 

Zlabya falls in love with a dashing young rabbi from Paris, and soon master and cat, having overcome their shared self-pity and jealousy, are accompanying the newlyweds to France to meet Zlabya’s cosmopolitan in-laws. Full of drama and adventure, their trip invites countless opportunities for the rabbi and his cat to grapple with all the important–and trivial–details of life.

Rich with the colors, textures, and flavors of Algeria’s Jewish community, The Rabbi’s Cat brings a lost world vibrantly to life–a time and place where Jews and Arabs coexisted–and peoples it with endearing and thoroughly human characters, and one truly unforgettable cat.

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