In The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa, Rintaro is a hikikomori, a reclusive teen who loves books and has an almost encyclopedic knowledge about them. His grandfather has just died, leaving him to run Natsuki Books on his own, but soon he'll have to leave the bookstore behind to live with a distant aunt.
Rintaro stops going to school entirely after his grandfather's death. Why bother? He's going to leave, soon, and he doesn't have any friends. When an orange tabby named Tiger shows up and asks for his help saving books that are being destroyed, he follows. And, when the class rep — a cheerful girl named Sayo — arrives with his homework and becomes involved in the series of adventures into the labyrinth with Tiger, what will they discover? Can he and Sayo save the books from destruction?
Highly recommended - I had trouble putting down The Cat Who Saved Books and ended up with a bit of a late-night hangover from staying up to finish. I liked the way Sayo and another bookish schoolmate ignored Rintaro's introverted tendencies and spotted the depth of his knowledge and his heart. A lovely story of how books connect us and help us understand each other, translated from the Japanese.
I won a copy of The Cat Who Saved Books from HarperCollins via Goodreads. Many thanks!
This copy also includes a note on the cover illustration, which is quite interesting.
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