My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I'm actually REALLY glad to have finished this book.
I enjoyed the first few chapters; they were laced with the cuteness of Cleo and the bond she built with the family; which is familiar, since I have cats at home too. It made me go 'awwww~' on more than one occasion per chapter, but after the 5th-6th chapter onwards, anything other than that of Cleo was, quite honestly, boring.
I understand that the protagonist is literally overwhelmed with grief at the death of Sam. I definitely understand her situation, but after a while, it seems as if the protagonist contradicts her own opinions. She says that she doesn't like people who immerse themselves in self-pity, but that was EXACTLY what she did for a good period of time, months after Sam's death.
It may be because of my intolerance towards anyone who uses self-pity as a way to garner sympathy (then again, the protagonist said she's sick and tired of everyone's sympathy as well) or attention; which the protagonist says she hates as well.
Another thing that bored me was the way the author described scenes. I can tell that she's trying to be detailed, which is good, but somehow, it just doesn't get me, know what I mean? When it came to those parts, I just felt like skimming through the pages until it went back to 'story mode'.
I found it quite difficult to finish, because as much as I wanted to finish it as soon as I could, I also couldn't muster up enough interest to actually pick the book up to read. Most of the time, I forced myself to.
A little comparison, if I may, to one of the claims made by Good Housekeeping, stating that this book was the next Marley & Me. I can definitely spot instances where scenes are described in a similar fashion, but I beg to differ, if you'll forgive me. John (Grogan, author of Marley & Me) had a flair of describing scenes in detail, yet with humour, which unfortunately, I find that Helen kinda lacks.
I won't deny the 'lessons' that Cleo has taught, though. Being an animal lover myself, I definitely agree that animals DO have some sort of healing power. Not just in dogs like Marley, and not just in cats like Cleo. It could be your pet chameleon for all it's worth.
Then again, I MUST say that I mean no insult to Helen Brown. I understand that every author has their own writing style, and this was just my honest opinion. Will I pick up After Cleo? Probably not. But I've seen a good few readers who enjoyed this book. So I recommend taking my review with a pinch of salt, and not let it deter you from giving this book a shot.
Who knows, you may find that unlike me, you like it!