“The traffic light glows reed through the rainy windscreen, blurred, clear, blurred again, as the wipers swish to and fro. Below it, in front of us, is the hearse. I try not to look at it.
My hands fidget as though they don’t belong to me, picking at a loose thread on my sleeve, stretching my skirt down so that it covers more of my legs. Why did I wear it? It’s way too short for a funeral.”
Pearl has a new baby sister. However that sister – The Rat – is the reason Pearl no longer has a mum and Pearl isn’t sure if she’ll ever be able to forgive her for that. With her dad trying to hide his grief and look after the baby, her granny becoming ever more interfering and her best friend moving on with her own life Pearl feels alone and completely lost. She wants her mum back and there’s no one else she wants to be around. But what if her mum isn’t completely gone? What if she’s still around, can she really help Pearl?
This was the second book in as many weeks I read about a girl whose mother dies as a result of pregnancy, with a non-biological father and the baby surviving. However The Year of The Rat was infinitely better than the other book and it was exactly what I wanted it to be – heartfelt and real.
The story starts off with the funeral of Pearl’s mother. You soon find out that her Dad isn’t her biological father yet he has brought her up pretty much from birth, and that the new baby – Rose AKA The Rat – is in the hospital but doing well. The grief and raw emotion that come through just form the first few pages of this book is incredible and the story hits home as soon as it starts – or it did for me. I loved that the story had a small focus on romance but it wasn’t want brought Pearl out of the grief she was suffering, it was more there as a way of expressing Pearls feelings about life moving on, and I did really love Finn which helped.
The characters were real and this book honestly contained some of the bet characters I have ever met. Pearl’s Granny really did come across like a real grandmother and exactly how my own Nana would have been with me if I was in that situation. Her dad was incredible, his emotion could be felt seeping into me when I was reading and I felt so much for him, there’s something that happens in the book that just made me love him even more because it so obviously tore into him. Finn was such a sweet character and you could tell he doted on his grandmother Dulcie, and even Dulcie was great. I loved her just as I loved some of the other minor characters, and I think Verity has to be my favourite 7 year old ever!
The writing was exactly what I hoped it would be, real and fluid. I loved that Clare Furniss managed to put Pearl’s emotions across so well in her writing and I loved that the book was all split into months. I particularly enjoyed the humour that underlined the grief in it as it really made me connect to the book even more. Even with a slight supernatural element to the book this was a very real read and it completely caught me out a few times – making me laugh out loud when I had tears in my eyes and things like that.
This book was incredible and I would urge others to read it. Pearl is a selfish bitch at times but she’s not heartless with it… she believes things she knows to be true even though they aren’t and thats one of the main reasons she is the way she is. It hurts a lot to find out the truth and admit to herself that her mother is gone and it takes time – a lot of time. But that is life, that is how it really is and Clare Furniss put that across so well, I can’t wait to see what she writes next cos even if its half as good as this – it will still be great.
The Year of the Rat will be published on April 24th. My copy was sent to me by Simon & Schuster via Lovereading4kids.co.uk in exchange for an honest review.
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