The Year Of The Rat


How did I get it?:
I borrowed it!


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.


I haven’t really read a book that I adored for quite a while now, so I was apprehensive to go into reading The Year Of The Rat. There was no need to be. I absolutely loved this touching and thought-provoking read.

The Year Of The Rat follows fifteen year old Pearl. Pearl’s mother dies unexpectedly, after becoming unwell soon after delivering Pearl’s 2 month premature sister Rose. Pearl believes that if it wasn’t for her sister Rose, then her mother would still be alive. Pearl nicknames her sister The Rat as she believes she resembles a rat, rather than the gorgeous, cherub baby that she was expecting. Pearl feels like she’s lost everything. She’s lost her mother, and her father is spending time at the hospital with her little sister. Pearl also feels isolated from the family, as the man she calls her dad, isn’t actually her biological father.

Pearl begins to see and have conversations with her mother, and it is through these conversations that Pearl slowly begins to heal. The Year Of The Rat follows the first year of Pearl’s life without her mother. It beautifully deals with grief, the past and how life can change dramatically.

I think this book is such a powerful read, especially for those that have experienced losing a close family relative. It’s definitely a story that benefits from having such memorable characters. Pearl isn’t easy to like, yet it’s easy to understand why she acts the way she does. Pearl has to learn at a young age how to live without her mother. She also has to deal with her feelings about her non-biological father. On top of that, there’s The Rat. The Rat that she can’t welcome into the family with open arms, because of what happened to her mother. Pearl distances herself from her friend Molly, because she feels like Molly is more concerned with her new boyfriend Ravi, then being there for Pearl. (Even though, we see as readers that this isn’t the case) So whilst she may take some warming to, Pearl was ultimately realistic.

I loved the relationships within this story. The relationship that Pearl had with her mother, the tough relationship between Pearl and the man she saw as her father, the changing relationship between Pearl and The Rat, the interactions with Finn- the next door neighbour and the friendship between Pearl and Molly.

I was touched by this debut novel by Clare Furniss. I thought it was emotional, thought-provoking and real.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

8 thoughts on “The Year Of The Rat

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