Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
Published: 2014, Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Where are you, Rain?
My heart starts to pound.
Two, three, five, seven, eleven, thirteen.
The most important things according to Rose Howard are following the rules, homonyms, prime numbers, and her dog, Rain. Rose has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of high-functioning autism. To make sense of her life, the things she enjoys become almost an obsession. Despite the fact that she has no real friends and a father is unable to cope with her needs, Rose has Rain and so is happy. So when Rain disappears the night of a particularly intense hurricane, Rose is devastated and puts all of her energy into finding Rain again.
My experience reading Martin’s works was previously limited to The Baby-Sitters Club and its spinoff series, Baby-Sitters Little Sister, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect upon picking up a copy of Rain Reign. If her newest book is any indication of the caliber of Martin’s writing since then (and I have a strong reason to believe that’s the case), however, then I will certainly be looking into her backlist, as well as into any future works.
Rain Reign is divided into a few main parts: about Rose’s history, about the fictional Hurricane Susan and its aftermath, and about searching for and finding Rain, and the unexpected consequences that ensue. This is a quick read, the story relayed in relatively simple terms. And yet it also contains complex topics related to mental disabilities, broken families, social situations, as well as that all-too-important theme of self-discovery.
At the beginning of the novel, Rose is perfectly content with her life. She’s perceptive enough to recognize the fact that her life is not perfect, but it’s familiar and she’s able to make it work. Hurricane Susan and Rain’s subsequent disappearance challenge Rose’s comfort levels and force her to face some uncomfortable truths, yet her narrative tone remains largely hopeful.
As I alluded to above, this is primarily a novel of discovery, of Rose coming to terms with certain aspects of her life. It’s an important message in any novel, but not necessarily the most exciting topic. What makes Rain Reign stand out is its portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome. The novel is narrated entirely through Rose’s first-person perspective, which allows readers to really get into her head, to see what makes her tick. For Rose uses homonyms, prime numbers, and rules as calming, reliable ways in which to view her world. She may not pick up on all social cues and nuances, but readers will. It is evident that a lot of research went into Rose’s characterization, which is affirmed through Martin’s note at the end of the novel.
Despite its short length, Rain Reign tells a good, solidly constructed story. More than that, it tells an important one. This book should be read to supplement conversations about mental disabilities, or just to form a better understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome.
Rating: 4 stars