Once in a while a book comes along that is simple and sweet, and yet devastating at its core. "Rain Reign," by Newberry author Ann M. Martin, is a book suggested to me at the beginning of summer. I was hesitant. I knew Ann Martin from her Babysitters Club series (I was a huge nine year old fan) but I wasn't sure I wanted to read anything in that vein right now. Yet I gave it a shot, especially since the book was short, with large bold type, and a decent amount of white space on the page. If anything, it would be a quick read.
I was pleasantly surprised. In this upper-elementary novel, I found the thoughtful coming of age story of twelve-year old Rose Howard, told by Rose herself, concerning the growing up that all must do regardless of gifts and strengths, struggles and restrictions.
Rose is on the Autism Spectrum. High functioning, she is skilled in math, and competent in many types of patterns. She is obsessed with homonyms, following rules and schedules, and prime numbers.
Unfortunately, no one seems to quite understand her condition. There is often confusion in concern for Rose. Teachers, peers, and even her father, seem to be confused and angry in their interactions with this astute young lady. The only one who seems to understand, or to be able to really help make sense of the seemingly senseless world around, is her Uncle Weldon.
Yet Rose's father tries. Wesley is a single dad, suffering from heartbreak and job loss. He loves his daughter, but cannot seem to offer what she needs. He leans on Weldon to provide kindness and compassion for his child. Despite his gruffness and frustration, he has tender feelings. One day he brings home a dog - a gift. Rose promptly names the dog Rain... a name with 2 homonyms (reign, rein). Rain becomes a friend.
One night, a devastating storm moves in from the coast - floods, loss of electricity, phone lines down. Schools close and there is little comforting structure to the days during the disaster. During the destructive storm, Wesley lets Rain out in the middle of the night, as usual, and she does not return. And in the sad moments and days that follow, Rose tells us how she is angry with her father, how much she misses her dog, and her fears. We follow her in a systematic search for the dog, further clashes with her father, and life's messy struggles.
"Rain Reign" is a concise read with deep and tender compassion. Don't let this one slip by this summer.
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