I’m not the only one who immediately researched zodiacs when I got this book, right? (Well, I also went to China several years back…so…) Though this has nothing at all in the world to do with the book…I am in the Year of the Dog. You’re welcome for that update.
Also I won this book, so thank you to Kelly and Simon and Schuster for this book! The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss hit shelves in May, 2014.
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.
Mom, though…Mom’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.
How do I even talk about this book? How about: leave me alone to cry. (That could be it’s alternate title, actually.) You know those books that kind of stab your heart and then watch you shatter…and wait until the last 20-pages to fix you? This little beauty is one of those.
I admit, though, the title threw me. There is nothing Chinese about this book. Not even Chinese food. Which is a pity. The title is perfectly clear once you get reading, but it does feel misleading to me.
It is also extremely depressing. It’s about grief! Trust me when I say, there are books about crying and then there are books that make you cry and then there’s just crying. I AM CRYING, OKAY? So much pain. I’ve read a lot of books that deal with the topic of grief. Pearl loses her mother, really unexpectedly, and the book is about her journey through grief. No bandaids. No cuddles to stop the pain. There is just pain pain pain, and it’s realistic. It felt so real and so heartbreaking. I’m absolutely drained, because I just experienced it all with Pearl.
That’s good writing, okay? Let’s not mince words: this book is excellently written. See? I’m using “excellently” because this book is also British. Very Brisith. (Which I love, because it smells a little bit like home. Except for all the tea drinking.) Are you in pain? Tea. Are you sad? Tea. Are you a stranger who knocked on my front door? Tea.
Pearl is a really icy character. She had the tendency to be annoying, but I was too busy being in her shoes and feeling her pain to be ticked off. She’s quite cruel, really, in her pain. And seeing her thaw from the frost seems like it’s never goooing to haaaappen. Smite me. I’ve never had a close family member or friend die, so I can’t possibly know what it’s like — BUT, reading this? It really understood Pearl. I understood her cruelty. I understood her hate. And then this quote:
“He said maybe sometimes, when people lose someone they love, it’s like they die too. It’s like perhaps that’s the only way they can stay close to the person who’s gone. They stop living.”
I’m done. Grab a mop for my tears, okay?
Despite being about dead people, this book is surprisingly funny. The humour is dry and snarky, bit of gallows humour here and there. Fabulous.
There’s also a lot of family relationships in here, which, as you might now, I adore. Smushy romance is well and good, but there are other kinds of relationships and I get so excited when YA explores them! While there’s a bit of a Thing happening between the neighbour’s grandson, Finn, and Pearl, the book never relaly “goes there”. This book is about Pearl and her family: her grandma, her step-dead, her dead mother, and the little baby who her mother died having. Family isn’t loving and happiness. It’s support when you’re drowning. I love that.
You have to read this. I want you to feel the pain that I am feeling, basically. It’s sad and funny (which is incredibly hard to pull off). But, spoiler: there is no Chinese food. I’m still confused as to why there’s no Chinese food.
Despite using Sherlock gifs with skill, Cait has only ever watched on episode. (She is probably missing out.) Nothing like the smell of mystery and British tea in the morning. Cait is currently asking herself how her TBR got so huge again. She swears, it’s multiplying while she’s not looking. She’s reading BREAKING BUTTERFLIES.