I received this book for free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Orca Book Publishers on March 22nd, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Just when Isabelle thinks her life can't get any worse, something happens to her at school that makes her wonder how she can continue to look after her younger siblings, Evan and Maisie, work at the local mini-mart and deal with her alcoholic mother. It's more than any sixteen-year-old should have to bear, but Isabelle can't think of a way out that won't hurt her brother and sister.Amazon •
When Isabelle punches a girl at school, only one teacher sees past Isabelle's aggressive behavior. Challenged to participate in a group writing project, Isabelle tentatively connects with a boy named Will and discovers an interest in (and talent for) the only kind of drama she can control--the kind that happens on the page.
“Rodents are very resilient. They survive when nothing else can-even become immune to poisons. Did you know a rat can tread water for days?”
“No, I didn’t.” I laugh.
“Survive being flushed down a toilet?”
“So if you’re a rodent,” he says, “you’ll probably outlive us all.”
Isabelle’s character makes me happy. She’s a teenager that has to put up with an alcoholic mother, violently alcoholic uncle and take care of her two younger siblings, but she’s not the typical I-can-do-everything! teen I usually seen in these books. She gets angry, she’s selfish, she gets into fights; just as most teens in that typical situation would find themselves.
Will is the romantic interest of the book. He is a bit of an outcast himself, though not much is found out character-wise about him. Honestly, I would have liked the book better if they had remained friends and the ‘romance’ had been left out. He was an interesting character for what was given, though.
The main focus within the school is that Isabelle is placed with a small group (including Will and herself) called The Words on the Wall in which they come up with a theme and poster words on the cafeteria wall that will eventually include the rest of the students. It sounds like a great idea, allowing teens to express themselves through the theme, but of course teens can be cruel and (like all YA high books based in HS) there are your typical mean girls to look out for.
The highlight of the little group are their meetings in the drama club prop room! Zara is a bit of a stickler for rules and order, but Damien is a care-free artist that goes around picking out the most ridiculous props for everyone. The room eventually becomes a important part of Isabelle’s story.
Jacquie is Isabelle’s cousin and a picture of what Isabelle is on the road to becoming/could have become. She dropped out of school, has already been in juvenile hall for fighting, and dresses in very revealing clothes.
There were a few times where the story had the perfect adult for the perfect situation, or someone just happened to have arrived at just the right time. I’m not typically a stickler for these, but when it happens quite a few times in one book it gets on my nerves.
Overall, Rodent is a good contemporary young adult read.