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The Fifth Life of the Catwoman. It only has one wisher. It ought to have 100s in my opinion. This is my best read so far in 2008. At first glance this book is an alternate earth fantasy that's even more similar to our world than Harry Potter. After finishing the book, you realize what it really is, is a commentary on modern-day tolerance.
Is our society really as tolerant of unusual people as we think we are? Or would a TRULY unusual person face the same difficulty in today's USA as people of various, now-accepted interest groups faced 50 years ago? In a society that accepts groups like Wiccans, witches, and Satanists at face value, how would we react if someone showed up who could actually practice magic? Someone who had been reincarnated 5 times, could talk to cats, could communicate telepathically, could walk into a mirage as if it was real?
The Catwoman has been hiding in a New Mexican mirage for 5 years, terrified of society because in every one of her previous lives she has been killed for her "abilities." Now she's been talked into joining a modern-day commune, told by someone who knows and accepts what she is that others will accept her as well. And they do, until her odd behavior gets in the way of a leader in the commune society. Then she becomes a target, hounded from a job she loves and the community she has only just started to feel a part of. The question is, will she give up, retreat to her mirage and her 50 cats, or will she give modern society another chance to accept her as she is?
This was SUCH a great book. It really made me think. It would be a great book for a teacher of high school history to read - the Catwoman in the book takes a job as a history teacher and some of her lesson plans are unique to say the least. The way she teaches her students that the version of history that we have handed down to us is not necessarily accurate (or at least not the only accurate version) is absolutely awesome! And although I'm sure it would never be allowed in the public schools, I love the idea of having the students fast in order to show them what it feels like to live in a country where people go hungry on a daily basis.
I highly, highly recommend this book.