THE TRUTH ABOUT RATS, RULES, AND SEVENTH GRADE by Linda Zinnen

THE TRUTH ABOUT RATS, RULES, AND SEVENTH GRADE

Age Range: 8 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An odd, rather disjointed book about a seventh-grade girl who loosens up after having spent her entire life following a series of rules that she believes are set down by her mother, teachers, and other adults, but are really her own internal construct. When asked to name her guiding principle, Larch Waysorta, who thinks in “neat lists” and “orderly rows,” answers “The Rules Are the Rules.” For the local Founder’s Day celebration, Larch’s class is creating a town Who’s Who, and Larch is assigned to interview Mr. Prouty, the school janitor. From him she accidentally learns that her taciturn mother, who never discusses her father or the car crash that killed him when she was a baby, was driving that fateful night. Larch immediately, uncharitably, and not very credibly assigns blame, saying, “Mom never told me how she killed my dad.” An encounter with an ugly stray dog changes Larch’s point of view on condemning before all the facts are in, and she learns that while rules are important, they must be tempered with justice and mercy. The duel story lines, Larch’s attempt to reach out to her silent, guilt-ridden, uncommunicative mother, and her life-changing interaction with a rat-catching dog, is certainly an intriguing mix. Larch’s telling is often funny and appealing; the stories work together intellectually; and readers should understand Zinnen’s message. Still, the book never achieves emotional synergy, and although the protagonist changes for the better, she does not become truly likable in this unusual but dramatically uneven novel. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-028799-3
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2000




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