Review: The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss


July 30, 2014 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm

The Year of the Rat
by Clare Furniss
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster Australia, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from the publisher
Rating: 4 Stars!
Other books from author: This is her first book!

Book Depository | Goodreads | Twitter | Website

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Goodreads Synopsis

Grappling with grief is hard enough without repeat visits from the deceased. Pearl deals with death, life, and family in this haunting, humorous, and poignant debut.

The world can tip at any moment…a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mom 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 humor 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 mom is no longer around.

What I Thought…

I”m not quite sure what I was expecting from the book, but I’d been wanting to read it for a little while as it was such a different subject matter to what I normally read.  I’m pleased to say that I was not disappointed 🙂

Pearl’s story is heartbreaking and her grief is palpable throughout the novel.  I couldn’t imagine losing a parent that suddenly and Pearl also had the added burden of being left behind with her stepfather and her new baby sister, his biological daughter.  Her feelings of jealousy, fear, hatred and grief were very genuine and not at all gimicky or fake.  Pearl also had to deal with learning truths about her mother and her biological father, truths that were completely different to what she’d been told by her mum her whole life.  As you can imagine, this was difficult for Pearl and at times she was torn between her desire to honour her mum’s memory and the truth.  Furniss did a wonderful job of conveying this and I felt such sympathy for Pearl.

I also felt genuine sympathy for her stepfather, left behind with a daughter he considers his own and a baby in hospital, along with his own grief in losing his wife.  There were some lovely supporting characters that helped Pearl and her stepfather navigate the year following Pearl’s mum’s death, and their involvement is often part of the more uplifting notes of this novel.

I found the book a little bit hard to follow in the beginning; it jumped back and forth in time to the before and after of Pearl’s mum’s death.  I also didn’t quite understand how Pearl’s mum was able to visit Pearl, that part was never really explained.  My theory is that it has a lot to do with grief and that desperate need to have the person back in your life, which dulls over time as part of the grieving process.  Who knows, maybe she’s a ghost?!

This book was very engrossing, I was SO reluctant to put it down each time I picked it up.   It was a sad read with only a few moments that made me smile throughout, and by then end I was on the verge of tears for most of it.  So if you’re looking for a cheerful read, this is not the book for you {and if you think it’s going to be cheerful after reading the synopsis, I really can’t help you!}.  If, however, you’re in the market for a read that’s genuine, emotional, at times bittersweet and mostly heartbreaking, this is the book for you.

Favourite Quotes:

Would it rip a hole in the space-time continuum?

The world may tip at any moment.

What did you think of this book?  Did you enjoy it?


5 thoughts on “Review: The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss

  1. Cait says:

    I really enjoyed this one too! I think it had the tendency to be almost too depressing…but it pulled it off really balanced, I think. I was really aching for Pearl. Gah, like her hate for the Rat was so sad…understandable but sad. The entire thing just kind of broke my heart. 😐 The only thing that confused me was that it had nothing to do with Chinese things. Hehe. Considering the title, I thought it would!

  2. I’m pretty sure Pearl’s mum was a ghost when she visited her. This was definitely a heartbreaking read, but I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it overall and found it engrossing.

  3. […] Wednesday ~ Wednesday’s Weekly Wrap-Up {9} Saturday ~ Stacking the Shelves {5} Sunday ~ It’s Swappin’ Time: I Got Ninjaed! Sunday ~ 2nd Annual Beat The Heat Readathon! Tuesday ~ TTT: Top Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From Wednesday ~ Review: The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss […]

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Hi! I'm Bernadette, a 27 year old lawyer who loves to read (duh!), especially to escape my day job. I love to talk about books but I don't always get the opportunity to do so, hence my blog! I adore YA literature, most genres of Adult Fiction, and I've also been known to pick up a non-fiction book from time to time. I hope you enjoy your visit!

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