My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Meet Marie Claire and Robert DeBillier. Aka Bob and his sister – The Rat. Following a tragic family incident, the two of them decide to seek out their long-lost Uncle who lives in New York. Trouble is – these kids currently live in Winnipeg. Cue one of the most heart-breakingly brilliant roadtrips I’ve ever read about.
I can’t believe how good this book was. It’s extraordinary. Hughes has the ability to construct character so well through his use of language; The Rat is one of those gloriously eccentric other-wordly creatures that you meet quite often in books. And you do meet them quite often, but you never meet them done as well as this. The Rat is a wise-cracking, bleeping brilliant creation, a ball of imagination and courage wrapped up in the guise of a ten year old girl. She’s amazing. You can’t help but root for her and Bob.
The story as a whole is full of some lovely seditious comments on humanity. It’s refreshing to see these presented as offhand comments rather than the blunt moralising that some “issue” books can slide into. I actually really enjoyed how the story had a bit of respect for the nous of the reader. Kids are smart creatures and sometimes authors forget this.
And then there’s the ending. Hughes presents a very quiet, very subtle ending but it packs a stunning emotional punch. The movement towards this heart-breakingly brilliant ending is one that practically defines the term “page-turner”.
This book is amazing.