Reader Reviewed The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss

The Year of the Rat

Written by Clare Furniss

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

One of our Books of the Year 2014 - May 2014 Debut of the Month Heartbreak is made bearable by humour in this gripping and touching story of sixteen year old Pearl, struggling to keep going after the death of her mother. Pearl’s mum dies after giving birth to The Rat as Pearl designates her tiny, newborn sister. How can Pearl ever forgive The Rat for all the grief she has caused? Locked into her own sadness and refusing to let anyone help her, Pearl knows that only her mum can help her. What would she say if she turned up and knew what Pearl was thinking? How Pearl grieves for – and with – her mother is a tragic tale beautifully told.

A Piece of Passion from Ingrid Selberg, Publisher, Simon & Schuster Clare Furniss has that rare ability only the very best writers have: to provoke an authentic emotional response. Clare describes grief that cuts to the bone at the same time as making you smile wryly at life’s unpredictability...If you’re a daughter you can’t help but immediately want to pick up the phone to your mum after reading this…

Teens love to read and in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

Reader Reviews

Teens love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids reader review panel were invited to read and review this title.

  • Lola Bridgeman, age 17 - 'An aching exploration of loss and acceptance that echoes perfectly the changes in a young girl's life. Beautiful, lyrical and spellbinding.' Read full review >
  • Ciara McIlvenna, age 17 - 'This book is deeply enticing. It is charming and funny and sweet, yet deals with a heart wrenching topic respectfully. I would recommend this to anyone of any age. A deeply enjoyable read.' Read full review >
  • Ruby Woods, age 16 - 'A heartfelt book that is sure to leave the reader in tears. It’s perfect for any teenager looking for an unforgettable read.' Read full review >
  • Morgan Steigmann, age 14 - 'A truly captivating debut that will steal your heart, Pearl’s story tells of troubles a teenage girl should never have to face... and a feeling of guilt that refuses to shift.' Read full review >
  • Erin Zammitt, age 13 - 'A short and sweet read that will have you crying with laughter one moment and crying with bittersweet sadness the next. A great debut from Furniss.' Read full review >
  • Poppy, age 17 - 'Such a poignant book that though seemingly simple is rather more special than that.' Read full review >
  • Karianne Turner, age 11 - 'a marvellous book...It was very sad to start off with but as you read more it becomes a little happier with every chapter and by the end I was smiling.' Read full review >
  • Kaya B, age 16 - 'a brilliant and emotional debut novel...I look forward to reading more from Clare Furniss.' Read full review >
  • Raimy Greenland, teen - 'The Year of The Rat was exactly what I wanted it to be - heartfelt and real...This book was incredible and I would urge others to read it.' Read full review >
  • Rebecca Tyrrell, age 13 - 'a fabulous, thought provoking novel and one I am glad that I have read.' Read full review >
  • Bethan Scarr, age 13 - 'You fall in love with all the characters instantly, I could hardly put it down... I will always remember roller coaster that is The Year of the Rat.' Read full review >
  • Aimee Sweet, age 13 - 'This book is so fabulous it brought tears to my eyes and at one time I shouted, "Help Pearl! Somebody!"...I recommend this to anyone because anyone would love it.' Read full review >
  • Jade Craddock, adult - 'a heart-wrenching journey but one that is certainly worth the hours spent on it.' Read full review >
  • Tricia Clement - 'Anybody who has lost someone will relate to this story, at times sad, at times funny, a story that all ages will enjoy.' Read full review >

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The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss

I always thought you'd know, somehow, if something terrible was going to happen. I thought you'd sense it, like when the air goes damp and heavy before a storm and you know you'd better hide yourself away somewhere safe until it all blows over. But it turns out it's not like that at all. There's no scary music playing in the background like in films. No warning signs. Not even a lonely magpie. One for sorrow, Mum used to say. Quick, look for another. The world can tip at any moment … a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mum dies after giving birth to her baby sister - The Rat - who is a constant reminder of why her mum is no longer around…

An emotionally compelling novel full of bittersweet humour and heartbreaking honesty about loss, love and learning to move on. The Year of the Rat, follows a year in the life of 15 year-old Pearl, coping with the heartbreaking loss of her mother and the arrival of ‘the Rat’, her baby sister. No one can possibly understand Pearl's grief: not her dad, not her best friend and certainly not her gran who never really approved of her son's choice of wife. Feeling completely alone, Pearl struggles to find her place in what feels like an empty and pointless world as she tries to come to terms with losing her mum.

This is a debut that will capture your heart, perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Meg Rosoff and John Green.


A truly amazing read. This story will linger in the mind long after the final word has been read. Highly recommended. -- Malorie Blackman, author of Noughts and Crosses I cried, I laughed, I cried some more... a moving must-read that'll stay with you long after the last page is turned. -- Nic Hubbard Bliss Beautifully written and emotionally charged debut about love, loss and families. Would appeal to fans of Annabel Pitcher. The Bookseller The Year of The Rat is a sensitive, beautifully written book. -- Meg Rosoff, author of How I Live Now Beautifully written with a dry sense of humour. The Stylist I loved this book and want other people to love it too ... 'The Year of the Rat

. -- Rachel Hamilton, author of The Case of the Exploding Brains The Year of the Rat is already a strong contender for best YA debut of 2014... I never wanted it to end. Wondrous Reads Blog

About the Author

Clare Furniss

Clare Furniss studied at Cambridge University and worked for several years in political media relations. She now lives in Bath and is completing an MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University.

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Book Info


320 pages
Interest Age: From 11


Clare Furniss
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Simon & Schuster Childrens Books an imprint of Simon & Schuster Ltd

Publication date

24th April 2014




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