The world can tip at any moment...
The Year of the Rat, a debut YA novel from the UK by Clare Furniss, is a lovely and wise story of loss. Fifteen-year old Pearl has lost her mother during the premature birth of baby Rose, who Pearl calls Rat. While the story is heartbreaking, it is told with precision and care. Furniss is a fantastic writer who cares about each of her characters. Some of the twists are expected, but the story doesn't end as neatly as one might expect. Despite some near magical realism, The Year of the Rat is quite true to life.
My only gripe with it was that I felt that Pearl was failed by the adults in her life. She was very understandably floundering in the aftermath of her mother's death and was often told to stop feeling sorry for herself. As an American reader with a touch of Anglophilia, I did love all the British colloquialisms!
I also appreciated that Pearl's mother was a real person, not a saint.
The Year of the Rat is highly recommended to teen and adult readers looking for lyrical prose and sensitive storytelling and character development.