by Fernanda Eberstadt

Arlene Almas: Rat is the teenage daughter of a single mother in the south of France. Her father, whom she has never seen or heard from but has heard plenty about, is the son of a once-famous English model, and lives in London. Although we may think of Rat's life a miserable one - she and her mother are poor, and her mother's live-in boyfriend is a bad-tempered freeloader - she and her mother do have supportive friends and, in any case, it is the only life she knows. The real adventure begins when Rat decides it's time to meet her father, and sets off with her younger adopted brother on a journey the end of which she can only guess at. Eberstadt's depiction of Rat's life is straightforward and down-to-earth - nothing is either romanticized or made melodramatic. Once again I was forced (!) to stay up half the night to reach the conclusion of this fascinating story.
Rating: *****

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