I read the book that preceded “Year of the Rat”, “Year of the Dog”, toward the end of Aught 7 and was nothing but pleased. The book was not so much a story as a collection of events in the life of a grade school kid. At that age, school, family, and friends is about all there is. The characters were undeniably real. The semi-autobiographical protagonist made for some great examinations of Asian/American cultural differences that youngsters could understand. Well, Grace Lin continues the theme in “Year of the Rat” with similarly successful results. A book that doesn’t wow as much as it satisfies. Or maybe I should put it this way: “Year of the Rat” just walks the walk, no talk necessary.
Pacy is a couple years older than last time and the Year of the Rat is about to begin. This particular year is destined to bring change, and it certainly comes through. Pacy’s best friend Melody is moving, and our heroine is crushed. Her life plan, to be an author and illustrator, is also brought into question when Pacy learns that it is considered a “cold door” profession (see: bound to leave you broke as a joke). She begins to second guess herself. Pshhhhhhhheeeeeewwwwwww – Crash! That’s the sound of change, my friends. These worries make for an unexpectedly stressful year. But there are some other changes in store for Pacy. The internal kind that allow her to see her year in a new light.
I’ve got to say, the book is a pleasure to read. Simple black and white illustrations scattered about to shed light on the text. Girls from a variety of cultural backgrounds will identify with the struggles of making friends and fitting in. An easy one to recommend.