The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss

The Year of the Rat

Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Publisher: Simon and Schuester
Source: YABirmingham
Format: Proof copy
Rating: 4 stars
Buy the Book: Waterstones, Amazon, The Book Depository
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 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.

I have had this book for almost a year but I have never picked it up because I never felt inclined to pick it up. However, this past week I decided to read it and I’m really happy I did.

The Year of the Rat is a beautiful story filled with heartbreak, family and grief that takes you on an emotional ride. Having never experienced losing a close family relative, it was very intriguing to see how different people experience with grief. Pearl and her father both deal with it differently and I loved that. Not everyone deals with grief in the same way and Clare Furniss depicted this perfectly.  The emotional depth of this story is it’s main feature so I definitely recommend this book if you are looking for a book that will take you on an emotional ride.

Pearl wasn’t a likeable character at all throughout the novel and you find yourself hating her actions because unless you’ve been through a similar thing, you don’t understand why. I didn’t completely love reading this book because of Pearl but I feel that was probably the authors’ intention.The side characters were really enjoyable and that made up for her not being the best protagonist.

Overall, this was a stunning debut novel that will pull you on an emotional rollercoaster and I can’t wait to see what Clare Furniss does in the future.


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