Rebecca's Reviews > Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World

Dewey by Vicki Myron
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Jan 04, 2009

really liked it
Recommended to Rebecca by: Scott
Recommended for: Holyn, Lois
Read in January, 2009

I know some people might argue that this book about a kitten discovered in a library book drop box the coldest night of the year is simply fluff (really, no pun intended), but I think it truly deserves 4 stars. Vicki Myron, the library director, petitioned the board to keep the kitten and his friendly nature captured the hearts of the library patrons as well as the town. Of course, if you are a cat lover, you will identify with as well as laugh and cry at Dewey’s exploits and how he touched the lives of small-town Spencer, Iowa, and the rest of the world. But even non-cat lovers have to admit that a cat that was featured in hundreds of articles, had visitors from as far away as Japan, and whose death after 19 years was announced on CNN and MSNBC is a little extra-special.

However, the cute cat aside, this is also a moving story of a small-town girl who left her alcoholic husband and chose to raise her daughter alone. Myron became the first person in her family to obtain her undergraduate degree and then began work at the local library. After a few years she interviewed for the director position and got the job after passionately explaining to the board why she was the best candidate, even though she did not have the required masters degree. Myron worked with Emporia State University in Kansas to complete the first American Library Association-accredited long-distance masters program offered in the nation. Throughout her life she struggled with multiple health issues caused by complications from too much Pitocin during her labor and family history of cancer. In a deeply personal moment, Myron describes her two-year battle against breast cancer including a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She states how Dewey always wanted to be in her lap and insisted that she pet him even at a time when she felt so privately betrayed and abandoned by her own body.

Finally, this book told a unique story about the resilience of Iowans after the farm crisis of the 1980s. I didn’t have a very good sense of the people and place in that part of the country (as opposed to my home, the South), but I really enjoyed learning about them through the story of Spencer. I would recommend this book to cat-lovers of course, but I believe it also appeals to all Americans who strongly identify with a place and/or who struggle to overcome personal and economic adversity.
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