My Life as A Rat

My Life as A Rat

A Novel

Book - 2019
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Baker & Taylor
Exiled from her family and church after testifying in a murder trial involving her older brother, Violet reflects on the choices she was forced to make.


“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 twelve, 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.

& Taylor

Exiled from her family and church since the age of 12 for testifying honestly about a racist murder, a young woman reflects on the wrenching choice she was forced to make between her family and the truth. 40,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2019]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062899835
Branch Call Number: Fiction Oates
Characteristics: 402 pages ; 24 cm


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debwalker Jul 05, 2019

When you rat out your brothers for murder....a toxic family in upstate NY and a trip through the American dark side.


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