The Year of the Rat
Little, Brown Young Readers (2008)
Reviewed by Maya Landers (age 10) for Reader Views (2/08)
“The Year of the Rat,” by Grace Lin, is an interesting, entertaining book about a Taiwanese girl, Pacy, who lives in New Hartford, Connecticut. The book does a fabulous job of describing her thoughts and feelings. This feeling is enhanced when, on the sides of the pages, there are drawings, pictures, and interesting notes–including how to make an American Revolution haversack!
I thought that the way that many of the characters were described was very realistic; it made me feel as though I knew them, and as if I could relate to them. Also, many times throughout the book, when an adult is explaining something, then they will tell an Asian folktale, including “The Story of the Twelve Animals of Chinese New Year,” and “Knowing the Fish,” (or, “The Two Philosophers”). Because of this, I felt like I could enjoy reading a fictional book about fictional characters while I was learning the culture of a foreign country.
This book is the sequel to “The Year of the Dog,” also by Grace Lin. Although I have not read this book, I felt like I could understand everything that was going on. Lin did a very good job of making sure that the reader could understand everything, and not including too many things that would be hard to understand if you hadn’t read the previous book.
Pacy and her best friend, Melody, are so close that they are like sisters. So when Melody announces that she is moving to California, the other side of the country, Pacy is heartbroken! Melody is moving because her dad needs to go there for his work, and so they are renting out their house. When a Chinese boy, Dun-Wei moves in, Pacy thinks of him as the enemy, because he lives in her best friend’s former house. Because he is not very good at speaking English yet, the people at Pacy’s school bully him and call him insulting names. Will Pacy stand up for him as she would for Melody, or will she survey him with cold indifference, believing it to be only what he deserves for moving into the house that used to be her friend’s?
I would recommend “The Year of the Rat” to my friends because it did a very good job of describing the life of a girl who had to make some hard decisions and then live with those decisions afterward.