For my latest Astral Weeks column at the L.A. Times, I look at Girl in the Arena, a very good YA novel by Lise Haines about modern gladiators. I quote from the start of Haines's book:
Ned was a serious asthmatic whose condition became aggravated by any small contact with cats. So he borrowed nine of his friends' tabbies and minxes and Persians and drove around in his VW Bug with the windows rolled up. The cats laced in and out of Ned's lap, moved along the back of his seat. . . . The plan was to drive around the city and pull right up to an emergency room, and then 4F all the way. He just couldn't find a hospital in time. The coroner said that Ned miscalculated the number of cats he needed in the car.
(I wound up borrowing some of the dire "prologue" that I concocted here for the story that I wound up reading at "Impossible Geometries" last night!)