Book Reviews

The Year of The Rat by Clare Furniss book review



To Pearl, there’s nothing sweet about her premature half-sister, Rose. It was Rose that causes her mother’s death and Rose that turned her world upside down.

To Pearl, Rose is The Rat.

Achingly sad, yet refreshingly real, The Year of The Rat will make you laugh, cry and hold your loved ones a little bit tighter.

This book follows Pearl. A sixteen year old girl who has just lost her mother. And it was her new baby sister that caused it.

Pearl can barely even look at Rose, The Rat, as she calls her. To Pearl, The Rat has changed everything. She was the reason her mum died and the reason why her life is being turned upside down.

Her non-biological dad (whose raised her since a baby so to her he is her proper dad… and that NOT A SPOILER because you learn it in the first few pages) is putting all of his time into The Rat and it soon becomes clear to Pearl… he loves The Rat more than her because she’s his biological daughter.

Then there’s her best friend, Molly, whose friendship she’s slowly losing and then theres Granny whose come from Scotland to help with The Rat and who always hated her mother…

Through all the heartache and pain there is one small shining light, her elderly next door Neighbour Dulcie and her handsome grandson, Finn.

Oh and there’s always the fact that her mother’s ghost is coming to visit her…

Can Pearl ever forgive her sister for what she caused?

Oh holy tear ducts this book made me weep! From start to finish. Could just be the fact that I’m an emotional person anyway but nope… it was seriously that heartbreaking and heartwarming.

Pearl is losing everything. Her mum has gone, her dad is spending all of his time with The Rat and her best friend Molly would rather spend time with her new boyfriend, Ravi, than with her. Life is prettt lonely. But Pearl seems to like it that way. She likes the solitude and being alone means more time for her mum’s ghost to come ans visit her.
Pearl is lost. And throughout the book you could sense the depression that was creeping up on her. She saw things differently. Perceptions were different. She’s isolated herself from the people who care about her and she has managed to convince herself that they no longer care for her. Its heartbreaking. She hates Rose. She can’t understand why everyone is cooing over her. She killed her mother! I could see why she hated her, it would be hard to bond with someone who potentially killed your mother but it wasn’t really her fault. You could see why she blamed her though.
Her feelings towards her dad is different too. She manages to convince herself that he pushed her mum into having this baby and so she blames him too. She thinks that he wanted one who was biologically his. But she can’t see how much her dad is hurting and how much her dad loves her.

And the moment when it all comes to a head is just… oh I couldn’t see for tears.

The scenes with her mum was heartbreaking. She managed to learn the truth from her and the flashbacks that gets shown with the hospital and how she got there too late…. and when she eventually tells her best friend Molly the truth… tears again!

Finn and Dulcie were the one’s who kind of made her feel again. Dulcie was the voice of reason and Finn made her feel happy, even though she didn’t want to be.

The drinking moment was a pinnacle point because you could see that she didn’t care anymore. 

This book was brilliant from start to finish. I cried tears of sadness and tears of happiness. There wasn’t really a dry eyed moment with me.

For a first book Clare Furniss really nailed it the rawness and the heartbreak she conveyed on the page felt real. Its a topic that some people go through and it was a good one to choose for a first book.

I loved it. It definitely made me re-evalute my life. To hold on to those close to you because you never know what could happen.

5 out of 5 stars.

Oh and in the author biog it said Clare worked for the homelessness charity Shelter. I work for them too and its a brilliant charity to work for and a great cause.


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