Title: The Year of the Rat
Author: Clare Furniss
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Book Depository
The world can tip at any moment… a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mum dies after giving birth to her baby sister, Rose.
Rose, who looks exactly like a baby rat, all pink, wrinkled, and writhing. This little Rat has destroyed everything, even ruined the wonderful relationship that Pearl had with her stepfather, the Rat’s biological father.
Mum, though… Mum’s dead but she can’t seem to leave. She keeps visiting Pearl. Smoking, cursing, guiding.
Told across the year following her mother’s death, Pearl’s story is full of bittersweet humour and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mother, but also the fact that her sister — The Rat — is a constant reminder of why her mum is no longer around.
The Year of the Rat was a heartbreakingly sad yet realistic rendition of grief and dealing with the loss of a loved one. This was one of the reasons for which I liked this book. It’s not sugar coated like you see in most books and movies these days. It’s just real.
This book follows the story of Pearl, who we see struggling with the loss of her mother, her relationship with her step-dad and the arrival of her younger sister. The chapters are told from month to month to show the ways that Pearl tries to deal with the crippling grief that she’s left with after the death of her mother, and how her feelings change towards her sister Rose, ‘The Rat’ who, in her eyes, was the cause of her mother’s death. In this way, there was some character development as Pearl tries to figure out what to do- with her feelings, school, friends – and how to come to terms with all of the changes in her life.
I liked the idea of Pearl’s mum coming back to see her, and how she encouraged Pearl on when she felt that she couldn’t continue. I loved the notion in this novel that even with death separating them, the bond between mother and daughter remained strong and unbreakable.
I loved the beginning of this book. It was sad and gripping and emotional. I also loved the ending, which was utterly heart wrenching and bittersweet. But I felt that the middle just fell a little bit…flat. It didn’t really do the rest of the book justice. It was less emotive and the story just seemed to slip a little bit. But, I still feel like there was truth behind the way that Pearl dealt with things during this period in the book and it picked back up in the last few chapters. Although the middle of the book was fairly lacklustre, I did enjoy it as a whole.
Rating: Obviously, there were a few problems, but overall I enjoyed The Year of the Rat. It was a lovely debut that I am very glad to have read. ★★★[.5]☆☆