Rat


By Fernanda Ederstadt

The Short Take:

Life is messy and sweet and frustrating for the child (and teen) heroine of this enjoyable book. Eberstadt has brought the classic “journey of discovery” into the 21st century with style, substance, and outstanding readability.

Why?

I suspect most American parents will be outright shocked by the freedom of movement and lack of hands-on parenting Celia Bonnet, aka Rat, receives in Eberstadt’s book. I also suspect that’s the writer’s main point. There is certainly a huge contrast between the self-sufficient Rat and the weak and irritating, yet highly pampered, kid that appears late in this novel.

Rat could be seen as a coming of age book, but it does not follow the stereotypical sexual awakening path. Rat is both more subtle and more complex. Celia’s transformation is driven more by her brain than her body; and shaped just as much by her relationships with others as her own secret longings.

All in all this is a fascinating story with unexpected characters and their unexpected actions. I’m glad I got to meet Rat. We need more kids like her.

A Little Plot:

Rat is the product of a one-night stand between a beautiful bohemian French woman and an English artist. Her poverty, haphazard upbringing, and deep attachment to her erratic mother sound like a recipe for disaster. Nope. Rat accepts and loves her world, even when it brings what are at first unwelcome changes. But then one change brings danger to someone she loves and Rat begins to seriously think of her absent father as the rescuer she needs.

For more about Rat, Fernanda Eberstadt, and her other books, click here.

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