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Rat Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 30, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (March 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307271838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307271839
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,359,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Eberstadt (Little Money Street) creates a powerful modern legend in which a drug dealer can be a fairy godmother and the handsome prince may turn out to be your father. Fifteen-year-old Celia Bonnet, aka Rat, lives with her mother, Vanessa, in the Pyrenees, where they survive on what they can scavenge and sell at local markets. Rat dreams of some day meeting her long-gone biological father, who got Vanessa pregnant during a one-night stand. Rat and Vanessa's tiny family grows first with Morgan, the orphaned son of Vanessa's best friend, and then with Vanessa's boyfriend, Thierry. But after Thierry sexually assaults Morgan, Rat and Morgan run away, dreaming of crossing the Channel to find Rat's biological father, Gillem. Eberstadt invokes the heroines of Charlotte Brontë and Cynthia Voigt to create Rat, who moves forward out of grim determination to protect Morgan, and though Vanessa could be less opaque, Eberstadt creates a sympathetic figure in Gillem, whose artistic crisis takes a backseat to the demands of new fatherhood. Amid the thorns and crumb trails is a portrait of a childhood lived freely, the dangers weighed against its potential for adventure. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Growing up with her loving single-parent mom in a rough neighborhood in the South of France, Celia names herself Rat, and when Mom adopts Algerian orphan Morgan, 15-year-old Rat acts as his fierce older sister, protecting him first against racism in the community (“It stinks being Arab in France”) and then against sexual abuse at home, when Mom refuses to believe her sleazy boyfriend is abusing Morgan. Always haunted by the mystery of the father she has never met, Rat runs away with Morgan to London to find her dad––and herself. Eberstadt’s contemporary take on the elemental identity quest is rich, wry, and heartbreaking, complete with e-mails, security cameras, cell phones, and “globish” talk. Whether it is the immediate drama of Rat’s loss of innocence (“her blithe assumption that other people were basically well-intentioned”) or her sometimes painful independence from the mother she loves (“from worship to apartness to wary but still infintely tender”), the plainspoken, direct prose and the beautiful storytelling combine to produce a novel that is mythic, gritty, and unforgettable. --Hazel Rochman

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. Harris on May 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This not very complex novel is about family love but also about the destructiveness of families. It's about interracial warfare but also about how easily human relationships can transcend race.

"Rat" is 15-year old shoeless Celia Bonnet -- and make that "Bonnet" sound like "Bonnay" in your head, because this is the South of France. Not the Riviera of film festivals and fabulous yacht parties, but the far more raffish beaches as far to the South West as you can get without hearing Spanish. The characters are more likely to be dealing drugs than baccarat cards. In nearby Perpignan, daily
battles between immigrants and natives keep the scorching city on edge, and the schools all have metal detectors at their entrances.

No wonder Rat is pissed off. She's the product of a one-night stand between her French junk-dealing mother and a wealthy English artist. The conception part of the encounter seems to have been deliberate on the part of the mother, and Gillem, the resentful father, pays child support by standing order and shuns further contact. Rat is told only that he's English and the son of a very famous and very glamorous model.

Rat has informally adopted nine year old Morgan as a younger brother. Arabic, the son of another single mother who died of AIDS, Morgan is football crazy but also familiar with the electronic marvels of our age. You feel him shrug with resignation as he follows Rat on whatever crazy exploit she cares to dream up. It's summer, the restaurants are full of sunburned tourists and life on the polluted beaches is free.

The central event in the book is the sexual molestation of Morgan by another passing lover of Rat's mother. Rat witnesses it, but her mother refuses to believe it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Katherine A. Mancall on May 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was dismayed when I read the two other reviews of "Rat." I really enjoyed it. I thought it was well-written (and I'm a writer, so very picky about that) flowed well, and introduced a segment of life I wasn't familiar with. I loved Rat as a young mother-figure to Morgan, as she's trying to discover the connections in her own life. And I really loved the descriptions of Southern France, the descripion of "townies" who make their livings in a resort location that's only crowded during the summer.

Emotionally, I thought it was complex, powerful and true. We have Rat's loving, generous, yet immature and self-serving mother. And the English father who wants no connection with her until she forces it. And the grandmother, whose emotional connection I won't spoil for those that haven't read the book yet. I liked that the writer didn't pull any punches emotionally either.

I'll be recommending "Rat" to friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By erynnicole on January 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Rat
Fernanda Eberstadt

Rat, a French girl that never met her father and pretends to resent him, finds herself running away to meet him and her legendary grandmother after her adopted brother gets molested by her moms boyfriend. This is a little adventure to see how she finds him, if she can get to him and what she learns about herself and what she thought was her life along the way.

Eberstadt captures the universal fears and fantasy that plagues singularly-parented children. The struggle between loyalty to the parent that kept you and the unavoidable curiosity of and yearning to know the parent that didn't stick around. It's also interesting, the dynamic she has with her mother and home life that, while difficult and lacking, she defends (against no one in particular except maybe herself) and the internal struggle she has between resentment of her father and the fairytale she secretly hoards about the life he has lived without her and the relationship they will have if they meet.

Rat is a coming of age story for both the girl and her parents alike. It's reflective and eye-opening. I think this maybe a new kind of fairytale. A story where, in the end, people deal with what's really going on and how they really feel in a way that's honest, forward-moving and doable. There's emotion, clarity, and acceptance.

I really liked this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By I. Fagin on November 14, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Rat is a thoughtful young girl growing up in what could be called difficult circumstances in the south of France. The author creates complex characters. There are no simple answers to Rat's life. Yes, we would like her mother to be more responsible. Yet in her way she loves Rat and more importantly both Rat and her brother love her mother.
Rat becomes obsessed about finding her father and a solution to all of her problems. But it doesn't happen that way. Her Father too is a complicated person, unable to show or even identify what he is feeling.
The writing was suburb and the descriptions of the settings evoked a sense of Rat's world. No, it wasn't fast paced and it didn't give any easy answers. But you get into the heads of all of the characters and you feel for them. What more can you ask?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A friend gave me a copy of Rat, which didn't look appealing, but I read it because she'd liked it. Eventually, I was fascinated with the writing, the characters, and especially the setting. I knew nothing about gypsy life and culture in the South of France until I read this book. I have since bought copies on Amazon to bestow on friends and have searched out other books by the author, Fernanda Ebetstadt.
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