When dynamic independent children’s publisher Guppy Books put out a call for submissions from unpublished, un-agented writers in 2020, Nadia Mikail answered with The Cats We Meet Along the Way - a poignant debut with a punch-packing, end-of-the-world set-up, and unconditional love at its heart. Through its deeply endearing characters, this tells a stirring story of family finding a way through loss, loneliness and feeling abandoned to embrace what’s really important. Until the Announcement “Aisha had been a seventeen-year-old student, who treasured her lie-ins and whose mother shouted about breakfast to wake her up. Now time was precious”. And the Announcement? Nothing less than the imminent end of Earth, with predictions of “the world wreathed in fire and smoke” in the fatal wake of an asteroid collision. How’s that for a mind-blowing set-up? But that’s not all Aisha has to deal with. Three years ago, before the Announcement, her older sister, June, left home and hasn’t been seen since: “she had chosen to disappear from their lives without a trace, and had chosen not to come back”. Now, mere months before the world will end, Aisha and her mother Esah want to find June, so they embark on an emotional road-trip across Malaysia with Aisha’s adorable boyfriend, his compassionate parents, and Fleabag the cat. Though the scenario is urgent, the author has a powerfully steady style, as seen in her measured, bone-deep evocations of memories, and characters’ mourning of memories that will never be made - their sorrow and grief is profoundly palpable. Then there’s Aisha and Esah’s deep-rooted connection to the place they were born, where they hope to find June, and an unleashing of pent-up anger, grief and guilt before a love-filled sense that light may be found through even the darkest of days.