Initial Final Page Thoughts.
I can’t deal with this. This was supposed to be my happy place book post- Feed and Deadline. But wow… what a beautiful book.
The fact that no one that I know has read it so it’s MINE ALL MINE. The Rat= possibly the cutest kid in the entire world. I want her to be my best friend and we can talk in accents together and sing Frank Sinatra and drink Mocha even though I don’t like coffee. Bob = the second cutest kid in the entire world and the best big brother EVER. We are family. Childhood innocence. Road trip= Canada to New York on a bicycle. Sorry Deadline… the new Best Supporting Cast Academy Award now goes to these guys. It’s up to you NEW YORK. Snort-inducing funnies. Originality. Vigilante justice. Unexpected gut-wrenching sadness that really knocked the wind out of me. I know that doesn’t sound like a high point… but I love books that make me stay like :-O < that for about five hours after I put the book down.
I honestly can’t think of one. I don’t even remember where I found out this book existed but I am SO glad I did. I just wish it was longer and I wish that The Rat and Bob never had to grow up and find out the world is a terrible, terrible place to live.
This book is narrated by Bob, twelve (nearly thirteen!) year old boy who lives in Winnipeg. Even though he is the narrator and we see this adventure from his eyes… I need to start with The Rat who made this book go from ‘Wow, this book is really cute and original and Bob is a great character’ to ‘MOVE OVER BOB, THE RAT IS BACK’.
Marie Claire Wazhashnoons DeBillier is a soccer playing, rap-music loving, “beeping” (because her Dad doesn’t like swearing), drama queening (“The Rat always spoke French when she was angry, she thought it was more dramatic”), paedophile-hating, dark sunglass donning, mocha-drinking, black & white film loving, master of every accent (except Jamaican) ten-year old with psychic tendencies and some of the funniest one-liners I have ever. She’s sweet, feisty, innocent, colourful but so wise beyond her years it’s ridiculous. Seriously, she has a better grasp on the way the world works than I do! If it was possible to adopt a fictional child… I honestly would adopt The Rat and high five her all the time.
Bob, The Rat’s older brother and our narrator, is the perfect story teller of this magical tale. He has such a mature (if not slightly cynical) outlook on life and because of the things that happen to him and his sister, he is forced to grow up quickly so he can look after them both. Bob really comes into his element when he and The Rat are forced to travel from their home in Winnipeg to New York to find their drug dealing uncle. Hughes perfectly depicted the dichotomy of Bob’s struggle to deal with all the responsibility he is suddenly presented with and the contagious excitement that twelve year old boy who finds himself in New York with his little sister would feel.
When I first read that this book was told from the perspective of a twelve year old boy, I was a bit wary thinking that it was going to be really saccharine and clichéd. But seriously, Bob is the coolest twelve year old kid ever, one of the most original and captivating narrators I’ve met and he has such an insightful perspective on things. By having Bob as a narrator, Hughes creates a magic out of the ordinary and scary things in life and I loved seeing the world through his eyes.
However, my favourite parts of Bob’s narration are his observations when it comes to his sister. He has such a dry sense of humour, but it is his off-hand comments about her and her eccentric and delightful ways that made this book for me. “Don’t be shy!” she said like a seventies pimp. Then she turned into Little Lord Fauntleroy’s sister” / “I mean, there’s no doubt the Rat was a closet shoplifter and I’m sure she’ll be convicted of something someday.”
I learnt the hard way not to read this book in public… too many strange looks as I chortled to myself.
OK, I have no idea where to start because on their journey Bob and The Rat meet such an array of characters so colourful the brightest rainbow in existence would look at them in horror and shuffle off in embarrassment because it felt so inadequate in comparison. I won’t go into them all because I want you to meet them and fall in love with them like I did but my favourites were Harold, The Rat’s boyfriend who has a dead-centre parting, always wears a shirt and tie and walks around on crutches. (He’s ten as well, by the way! Seriously, where are they getting all these cute kids from?!). Joey, the friendly neighbourhood drug dealer and Iceman, the rapper whose music the The Rat is obsessed with.
I have to agree with The Rat when she believes that everything sounds better in French. This song is one of my favourites and I am happily going to allow it to be used for this book, because there is a verse which sums up what this book meant to me.
I trotted on the avenue my heart opened to the unknowns
I wanted to say hello to no matter whom
No matter whom, it could be you, I’d said anything to you
It was enough to speak to you, just to calm down.
To me anyway, this perfectly depicts the carefree attitude of The Rat, the way she sees the world and the relationship she shares with her brother… which after the past couple of books I’ve read… I have to say is refreshingly normal!
9/10. The ending of this book made me feel how I imagine it would feel like to run through a glorious field of daffodils with lambs leaping next to me and butterflies dancing around my head only to have someone stick their foot out and trip me up.
That sounds like a negative review but, honestly, it isn’t. It was a great ending, it’s just that it was unexpected and I didn’t want it to end like that. But I always say that I love books that affect me emotionally and this book really did.
Throughout the book there are a lot of issues hinted at (the ones you can think of when you think of two children walking around the Bronx looking for a drug dealer) and when they come up, it’s really jarring, especially because they are so often juxtaposed with the hilarity of The Rat and Bob.
EVERYONE. People who have always wanted to go on a cross-country road trip on your bike, a freight train, in the back of a drug dealers car etc. People who love books that feel like there’s something magical within their pages. People who think their friends are awesome… because when you read this book you will realise that they are inferior to these guys. People who like to put on different accents just because they can. People who like to be awoken by their Dad singing Frank Sinatra at them. People who have always been a little crazy but don’t care. People who have always wondered what it would be like to hustle in Times Square.