Friday, May 01, 2015

The Year of the Rat, by Clare Furniss

After Pearl's mother dies while giving birth to her sister, Pearl tries to cope with her grief and anger.  She blames her stepfather for selfishly demanding that Mom go through with a risky pregnancy (presumably so he could have his "own" child).  She blames the baby (whom she nicknames "the rat").  Mostly, however, she is angry with herself.  Her schoolwork and her friendships are suffering.  And the constant appearance of her mother's ghost provides little comfort.

It's a slow and deliberate story, tracing a year of grieving and recovery (and it doesn't even completely resolve).  The scenes with the dead mother have the potential to drift into supernatural territory but they are played straight and the story, for the most part, leans towards realism.  It is, however, more of reflective tone poem than a story.  Not much happens and the story simply jumps forward from time to time and seemingly random points.

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