Eloquent, delicate and compelling describes Clare Furniss' YA novel The Year of the Rat.
Furniss touchingly relays a year in the life of 15 year old Pearl, which begins at the funeral of her mother.
'I stand, breathing in the damp, fresh air, trying not to be noticed while Dad is surrounded by a gaggle of dark-clothed people.'
Furniss' skills lies in her ability to create such an intriguing character in Pearl has to contend with life without her mum. There's an added element, her mum died giving birth to Pearl's sister,
'The Rat is an impostor'
Pearl emotionally disconnects from her life - her friends, her father, her sister and school.
The depth of the narrative comes from Furniss' decision to bring in mum, who appears at seemingly random intervals during the year to chat to Pearl. These moments are touching and honest, whilst also revealing the realism of their mother-daughter relationship rather than idealising it.
'You know how we argue, sweetheart, if we have to spend more than two hours together in a confined space.'
Her appearances ultimately help Pearl to find direction, leading her through the 12 month roller coaster.
The Year of the Rat is a novel that will tug at your heart-strings, no doubt about that whatsoever. It's brilliantly written, with the balance between sentimentality and teenage style realism captured perfectly.
Another great UKYA novel for 2014 I think!