This book was a recommendation by Mara, who I always accept book recommendations from.
Here's a carefully placed blurby blurb!
"Grappling with grief is hard enough without repeat visits from the deceased. Pearl deals with death, life, and family in this haunting, humorous, and poignant debut.
The world can tip at any moment…a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mom dies after giving birth to her baby sister, Rose.
Rose, who looks exactly like a baby rat, all pink, wrinkled, and writhing. This little Rat has destroyed everything, even ruined the wonderful relationship that Pearl had with her stepfather, the Rat’s biological father.
Mom, though…Mom’s dead but she can’t seem to leave. She keeps visiting Pearl. Smoking, cursing, guiding.
Told across the year following her mother’s death, Pearl’s story is full of bittersweet humor and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mother, but also the fact that her sister—The Rat—is a constant reminder of why her mom is no longer around."
This book was a whirlwind journey in a year that took me to places I never thought I'd go (AND I CAN SHOOOW YOU THE WORLLLLD. Jokes you're paying for fuel) I'm ready to go on a year long journey with you to review this book. Let's go!
-SPOILERS: I WILL SPOIL EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING IN THIS WILL BE SPOILED! THE SPOILED IS EVERYTHING IN THIS REVIEW. You've been warned -
I really was not sure what to expect when I was given the book by Mara. Of course, she did spoil a tiny bit when she was ranting to me on Facebook (SO THERE'S THIS GUY CALLED FINN AND HE IS SO TRIANGULAR...LIKE...BOOK TRIANGULAR) but I was generally in the dark in terms of who Pearl was, or why her mother came back as a ghost to talk to Pearl.
Mara also has this great tendency to recommend to me books that are alarmingly sad: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. They either involve lots and lots of death, or slam my feels right into the ground and I'm left sulking for a few days, or weeks.
I like the cover, although I was completely lied to. On first impression basis of just the cover, I was led to believe that this was a Chinese, Year of the Rat and Dragon! type of thing. It's clearly not, if you were wondering. There is no Fruits Basket in this.
It's very simplistic, and that's what I like. It has symbolism on it, which you pick up AFTER you read the book, which I will always mark down as top notch work. I'm a big fan of foreshadowing or things becoming sentimental after you go on this long journey of emotion with it, so whenever you look at the cover you feel your chest compress and your throat constricts with Feels as you stroke the spine and cover.
Pearl - Okay...Pearl, sweetie. We need to talk. I like you, and heck...after our year long journey, I feel like I am beginning to really love you now...but we have this type of relationship that sometimes, I'll just look over at you, and really want to hit you. Just a good old smack in the teeth. A bit of hair pulling - it's all casual, nothing too severe. I know your mum died, and you feel like your world is crashing in on you and that your Step-Dad and his rat of a child, Rose, don't understand you... but you are so dumb sometimes. So dumb. It's all a part of your grieving, and we all do that individually in our own way...buT DANG IT PEARL. STOP BEING A BUTT ALL THE TIME. A REAL DUMB BUTT.
That doesn't mean that I don't love you though. I was with you the entire ride, and I felt the hurt and the pain. I imagined what it'd be like if my mum died, and I know I would experience that same pain like you did and want to throw caution to the wind. But, seriously Pearl. You try any of this stuff again and I'll be handcuffing you to a bar near a bookshelf, 'cos you need to education yourself on what it and what isn't appropriate.
Still love you girl. Xoxo. Don't die, k?
Pearl's Mum (Her name escapes me too...): Pearl's mum was okay. She definitely had some hilarious moments, but at times I thought she was a little bit too much of a hippy-mum, like the mum in If I Stay. Out of all the characters, I didn't really connect with her.
Finn: Oooh...Oh Finn :) If I didn't like you immensely just because of your name, you can bet your sweet bippy that the things you did for Pearl took you straight to Dream Book Guy status. You're caring to your Grandma, you're musical, you're caring, you're just everything.
To quote a wise person - "You're a Hot"
Pearl's Step-Dad (His name escapes me...): You are such a sweet, kind, and patient (most of the time) man. While I was reading from Pearl's perspective, which kind of tainted her Step-Dad, I couldn't help feel bad the entire time for him. His wife dies, his daughter Rose is still in Hospital, and Pearl is having a mental breakdown. If I were in his position, I'd be less saintly than he was.
Pearl's Step-Grandma(?): Ugh. Just ugh. She reminds me of my Grandma, which isn't the greatest thing ever. She is brash, passive-aggressive, and kind of pushes Pearl to getting worse and worse...but then tries to help her because she does love her. She is a complex character, which is great, but there were times that I was thinking, "Could I eat her pages, so they don't exist?" (Don't ask me why these thoughts come. I read at 2am. I'm hungry, and weird thoughts come)
Rose: Rose is just a misfortunate circumstance to Pearl, but I think she is cute :) I'm very glad that Pearl eventually accepted her that she wasn't bad or a burden, but that she grew to love her. (Warms THE HEARTTT!)
But let's be honest, Pearl needs to stop being so reckless.
I'm rating it a 6.5 out of 10 :)
“For now the world keeps turning and I keep breathing, in and out, in and out. I breathe in the life that is all around me, in this garden, in this city, in the fields beyond it, in the seas beyond them and the shores on the other side; life that reaches out towards the unreachable, unknowable space that is beyond all of us and the stars that burn there.”
― Clare Furniss, The Year of the Rat