Friday, April 16, 2010

Children’s Books: Rat by Fernanda Eberstadt

Rat (Knopf) is a new millennium coming-of-age story told in a frankly lyrical and literary voice. Fifteen-year-old Celia -- nicknamed Rat -- lives in rural Spain with her mother, a self-involved free spirit. When the little family adopts the nine-year-old son of a dead friend, Celia is at first resentful, but she comes to love Morgan and feel protective of him. So much so that when her mother’s boyfriend abuses the child, Celia first fights the man, then takes Morgan and runs away to England to search out Celia’s biological father, a man she has never met.

For two children out in the world alone, this is an adventure that is epic in scope. Eberstadt’s eye is sharp, the details she shares rich and, as she tells it, there is never an absurd moment in two juvenile runaways crossing Europe and the Channel alone together, searching for freedom, safety and -- for Rat -- a sense of belonging.

Rat is a memorable story told in an astonishingly clear voice.

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