My Life as a Rat

A Novel
Narrated by: Sadie Alexandru
Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (67 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“A painful truth of family life: the most tender emotions can change in an instant. You think your parents love you but is it you they love, or the child who is theirs?” (Joyce Carol Oates, My Life as a Rat)

Which should prevail: loyalty to family or loyalty to the truth? Is telling the truth ever a mistake, and is lying for one’s family ever justified? Can one do the right thing but bitterly regret it? 

My Life as a Rat follows Violet Rue Kerrigan, a young woman who looks back upon her life in exile from her family following her testimony, at age 12, concerning what she knew to be the racist murder of an African-American boy by her older brothers. In a succession of vividly recalled episodes, Violet contemplates the circumstances of her life as the initially beloved youngest child of seven Kerrigan children who inadvertently “informs” on her brothers, setting into motion their arrests and convictions and her own long estrangement. 

Arresting and poignant, My Life as a Rat traces a life of banishment from a family - banishment from parents, siblings, and the Church - that forces Violet to discover her own identity, to break the powerful spell of family, and to emerge from her long exile as a “rat” into a transformed life.

©2019 Joyce Carol Oates (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Heavy Topics & Satisfying Story

Be prepared for some explicit description of date rape. Don’t get me wrong. This is a great audiobook. I listened to the last word. Another great novel by Joyce Carol Oates. I just want to warn people who might be triggered by the topic. Also, there is a hate crime against a young Black man and the POV of the story is from the vantage point of the White family involved. I’m a minority, dark skinned male, and I had moments of not wanting to hear the perspective of the father. Joyce does well to portray such a family. It was very believable. Also, the story is anti patriarchal, but so am I so I didn’t care about all the hyper masculine bashing. Many of the characters, male and female, come off as stereotypical. The plot was well structured and kept me interested. Joyce builds the story like a towering house of cards. You wait for the main character to collapse. I was somewhat satisfied with the ending. It’s worth the listen. Also this performance by Sadie Alexandru was amazing. She didn’t get overly dramatic and her representations were not caricatures. From someone who listens to a lot of audiobooks, some of the performers over perform, as if this medium is not any different than stage or screen performance. But it is. Sadie is aware of audiobook performance and I didn’t break from the story. Other performers overact with their voice and there are times when I can’t finish the book—not because of the story but because of the performer. Sadie did well to know her medium. I highly recommend this audiobook and hope you enjoy as much as I did.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Powerful!

Brilliant writing and story. Powerfully shows how shame and misplaced family loyalty enforce white male brutality, against society's best efforts. Needed to be written.

1 person found this helpful

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Disturbing Story of an American Family.

It is a sad reminder of the current world we live in. Complex family issues, murder, abuse, and the strength to survive.

1 person found this helpful