Excerpt from Rat by Fernanda Eberstadt, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Rat

A Novel

by Fernanda Eberstadt

Rat by Fernanda Eberstadt
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2010, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2011, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Rat sits down beside her, chastened. “You’re going to get burnt on your shoulders.”

She rubs the suntan lotion across her mother’s back, all the way down to the butterfly tattoo nestled at the base of her spine, just above the two dimples on her buttocks.

She braids her mother’s hair, which is henna-red, but she has nothing to tie it with, and little coils and tendrils keep escaping. She tries to fasten it with a strand of seaweed, but the seaweed breaks.

“Yuck,” says Vanessa. “Horrible kid. Vile brat,” but her tone is affectionate now, and she rolls over and rubs her nose against Rat’s in an Eskimo kiss.

“Do you love your little Vanilla-do? Tell me you love me.”

“Yes, I love you, Mama.”

“I love you too, my little Ratkin. Don’t you forget that, I love you, love you, love you.”

Rat’s mother is exquisite. She has a tiny heart-shaped freckled face with a pointed chin, and huge eyes like a cat’s. Beside her, Rat feels raw-boned, gawky. She lies down beside her mother, so that she can peek into Vanessa’s eyes which are deep-river dappled. Her cat’s eyes change color, from green-brown-gray to brown to green again, depending on her mood.

Rat knows the language of those eyes. Brown when Vanessa’s sad (worried about a friend who’s sick, or a boyfriend she ’s broken up with). Gray when she ’s angry (a fight with Mémé Catherine, Rat’s French granny, or with the landlord who won’t fix the drain). Green when her favorite song comes on the radio, or when she’s dancing around the house, parading some crushed-velvet scarf or feather boa she ’s found for nothing in the market.

“You’re so beautiful; you should have been an actress,” Rat says. “You’d have been a superstar.”

“Yeah,” says her mother drily. “Story of my life, one long string of should-have-beens.”

And Rat feels doubly bad, because she knows if it weren’t for her, Vanessa could have been any one of those things she dreamed of—artist, actress, singer, fashion designer.

Because Vanessa’s missed so many chances on Rat’s account, she feels extra guilty for giving her mother a hard time. When Rat grows up, she ’s going to buy the two of them a big house with a walk-in closet, and a bathroom with a full-size bathtub and mirror walls and vanity lights with a dimmer. She ’s going to take Vanessa to Venice and Africa and the Greek Islands, all the places she loves to read about, and she ’s going to bring her breakfast in bed every morning.

Rat isn’t easy. That’s what Vanessa tells her friends, she isn’t easy. Other times, she says, “You’re the love of my life.”

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from Rat by Fernanda Eberstadt, pages 10-13 from the hardcover edition.
Copyright © 2010 by Fernanda Eberstadt. Excerpted by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Music of the Ghosts
    Music of the Ghosts
    by Vaddey Ratner
    Music of the Ghosts is about healing and forgiveness, but it is also about identity and the revival ...
  • Book Jacket: Castle of Water
    Castle of Water
    by Dane Huckelbridge
    When a whopping 24 out of 27 readers give a book 4 or 5 stars, you know you have a winner on your ...
  • Book Jacket: Havana
    Havana
    by Mark Kurlansky
    History with flavor...culture with spice...language with gusto...it would be hard to find a better ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    No One Is Coming to Save Us
    by Stephanie Powell Watts

    One of Entertainment Weekly, Nylon and Elle's most anticipated books of 2017.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    If We Were Villains
    by M. L. Rio

    An intelligent and captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -