Rats Saw God

Book review by
Cindy Kane, Common Sense Media
Rats Saw God Book Poster Image
Funny high school novel reveals tender truths.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Teenage sex, parental infidelity, a teenager's affair with a teacher


One graphic scene of heavy petting and one extremely explicit sex scene.


Frequent and extreme.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Steve and his friends do a lot of recreational underage drinking; later, he is a heavy pot smoker.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that though the book presents Steve's pot-smoking as self-destructive, it portrays his heavy underage drinking as a high school norm. The writing-assignment structure isn't very original, but the antics of the G.O.D. group and the treatment of timeless adolescent issues give this its freshness and power. But even for young teens this has some pretty raw scenes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byblissfullygone March 24, 2010
I read this book when i was a little bit younger then 15 i wont lie. But to be honest, i loved this book, in fact its one of my favorites. Or rather, it is my f... Continue reading
Adult Written bycranteach February 5, 2009

well-written, but disturbing

Parents should know that a teen character in this book has sex with a teacher, and there are no visible conseqeuences for the adult. That was really disturbing... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byBammey February 10, 2014
Teen, 15 years old Written byj_yuso August 13, 2010

Funny, quirky, but better for older kids

I really enjoyed this book. It was on my summer school reading list, which shocked me due to all of the sexual references it makes, but it had a great message a... Continue reading

What's the story?

Given an assignment to write a 100-page paper in order to graduate, eighteen-year-old Steve York retells his high school career -- from delirious fun with a group of happy misfits to a decline into bitterness and alienation, and a hopeful recovery.

In Houston, straight-A high school student Steve York's biggest problems were getting along with his famous astronaut father and asking out the girl of his dreams -- a fellow member of a group of intellectual nonconformists called the Grace Order of Dadaists (G.O.D.). In San Diego, where he has fled to live with his remarried mother after a disastrous junior year, Steve is a certified \"stoner,\" an alienated pot-smoker and class-cutter. .

How did Steve get from there to here? Alternating between past and present, Steve narrates his high school history in the form of a writing assignment for Jeff DeMouy, a sympathetic guidance counselor willing to give Steve another chance to earn the English credit he needs in order to graduate. There unfolds a story about how high school relationships can shift and change -- sometimes irreparably, sometimes for the better.

Is it any good?

Part The Breakfast Club, part Animal House, this funny how-I-survived-high-school novel reveals tender truths between hilarious one-liners. On the surface, nothing that happens in Steve York's life is terribly credible, starting with the fact that his father was "the third or fourth man to walk on the moon." Supposedly a group of artistic, hip nonconformists, Steve's high school club, G.O.D., includes the requisite jock, the editor of the school paper, the lead in the school play, and the best-looking boy in school.

Yet the central relationships in Steve's life -- with Doug, the founder of G.O.D.; with Dub, his first love, who relieves him of his virginity and breaks his heart; and with his father, "the astronaut" -- all change in believable ways. Friendships mature; first love often isn't forever; and parents don't fit into tidy pigeonholes. However over the top the plot may seem, Rob Thomas' original language makes it seem real.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Steve's self-destructive behavior. Why did he and Doug form G.O.D.? How did the club help Steve? How did it hurt?

Book details

  • Author: Rob Thomas
  • Genre: Humor
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: January 1, 1996
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 17
  • Number of pages: 219
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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