Book Review: The Year of the Rat (Clare Furniss)
I don’t know why I keep reading these books about grief that make my heart ache so. But I do, and I’ve found yet another one that is beautifully written and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, despite expecting it to not be ‘my kinda thing’.
My favourite thing about this book was how raw and honest it felt. Pearl’s grief is ugly and she has thoughts that you wouldn’t ever tell anyone and that’s why it’s so important to read a book like this. Because no one is alone in these ugly thoughts, and it’s a relief to hear someone else having them.
I didn’t always like Pearl, but I always felt empathy for her, which I think was the important point. She did do some things which I struggled to understand, but I guess that’s what grief can do to you. I really wanted her to love her sister, and felt like she was warming towards her by the end, but I could see how difficult it would be, considering the situation.
The other characters in the book were all lovable in their own way, from Pearl’s step-dad who tried so hard to keep everything together, even as Pearl pushed him away, to her rather overbearing Grandmother who means well, and her dead mother who tries to make light of even the most serious of situations.
Although it’s very sad, this is also a really warming read. I think the best thing about it is that, by the end, Pear isn’t over her mother’s death. She’s ready to accept that she’s gone, but it doesn’t try and make out that everything is okay: it’s still only the beginning of a long and painful journey, but we’ve seen a tiny part of Pearl’s grief road.