The Year Of The Rat :: Book Review
We’ve already reviewed the prequel (first book in a series) to this book – The Year Of The Rat – bu author and illustrator Grace Lin. In The Year Of The Dog we met a girl named Grace (called Pacy by her family) who, along with her BFF Melody, was trying to find the answers to some pretty big questions about her life, including what she wanted to be when she grew up, by the end of the Chinese year of the dog.
The Year Of The Rat
The sequel to the first book opens, once again, with Grace’s family celebrating Chinese New Year. This time, Grace’s BFF Melody joins the festivities. As they sit round the table, Grace’s dad tells "The Story of the Twelve Animals of Chinese New Year or How the Rat was First," which explains how the rat became the first animal of the Chinese Zodiac and is therefore associated with new beginnings.
Grace is very happy with her life as it is and is not sure that she wants there to be any "new beginnings.” But the new year has other plans for her, and change does, in fact, come quickly. First, Melody and her family move away to California. To make matters worse, Grace’s schoolmates expect her to be friends with the new boy in class, simply because they share the same cultural background (Asian, though Grace is Taiwanese and the new boy is Chinese). She resents them for that. And even more so she resents the new boy and his family for having moved into Melody's old home. Can Grace survive and learn to embrace the changes that the Year of the Rat brings?
Once again, you’ll have to read the book to find out!
The book follows the same format of The Year Of The Dog, with Grace’s drawings scattered throughout the book. We think girls will love this book and some of Grace’s mom's stories such as "Canned Meat" and "Mom's School Lunch," which are good examples about being considerate and not making assumptions about other people. Grace learns some valuable lessons as the year progresses, from the importance of remaining true to herself and doing her best to putting herself in other people's shoes and trying to understand a situation from their perspective.
Just like in her last book – The Year Of The Dog – Grace Lin writes incredibly convincingly in the voice of a young girl who finds herself in the throes of growing up. The first-person narrative means that you’ll get caught up in all of Grace’s highs and lows, through class projects and family celebrations.
More Great Summer Reads: