October 7, 2014

Review: Rain Reign

This book has won my heart.

Title: ‘Rain Reign’
Author: Ann M. Martin
Pages: 240
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Available: NOW at your local library or bookstore
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Rose Howard has OCD, Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose’s father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn’t have much patience for his special-needs daughter.

Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Rose will find Rain, but so will Rain’s original owners.

Hearts will break and spirits will soar for this powerful story, brilliantly told from Rose’s point of view.

My Thoughts:

This book gave me so many feels—I love Rose. And I love Rain. These two together make for a strong story that will stay with readers long after the book is done.

First, let me say that Martin is a genius in this story. She brings to life Rose, a high-functioning Asperger’s child in first person. I cannot imagine the research and constant concentration to pull this off so flawlessly. And it is flawless.

I could tell very quickly that Rose was Asperger’s; I’ve taught teens with Asperger’s. The classroom interaction between teacher and Rose, classmates and Rose…spot on.

Now, let me first deal with the plot. This is not a story about an Asperger’s child. This is the story about a girl and her dog. The special bond these two have. The challenges of growing up without a mom. A father who is frustrated with himself. And an uncle who loves his niece.

The above elements are all of the things that made me love this book. The pacing of the novel will keep readers engaged. There is a nice balance between Rose and Rain, her life at school, her life at home. All elements that young readers can connect with in their own way.

The bond between Rose and Rain is unmistakable. They count on one another. There is a natural camaraderie, and for those who own dogs and treat them as family, you know what I mean. Martin’s interaction with these two on the page is natural, and it makes me want to hug the book.

Then there is the challenge of growing up without a mom. Readers are unclear of what has happened to Rose’s mom; all we know is that she left. The absence of the mom figure is felt on just about every page—and this contributes to the love I have for Rose as a character. This is not something she dwells on. She simply visits her mom’s box of memories when she feels like she needs to, and that is that. But as a mom myself, I felt as if Rose really needed her mom there, to hug her, to help keep her safe.

Rose’s father is not a center point in this novel, but his presence is enough to make him worthy of a few notes. First, he is not a bad man. He is a man who is lost without his wife. He is trying to raise a daughter on his own. And not just any daughter; one whose mind works differently. Readers will experience his frustration throughout the novel, but most especially when Rain goes missing. A part of me wondered, “Did he do it on purpose?”

Oh the uncle—I loved him. He is just what Rose needs in her life. He reminds me of the purpose of grandparents: to give parents a break. He understands Rose in ways that no one else does. He is patient toward her. He helps her with her homonym list, something that fascinates her. Throughout the reading, I knew if he was on the page, Rose was okay. It was when Rose was left alone or with her dad that I grew afraid for her.

And then there is the storm. A hurricane of epic proportions is not the center of the story, but it is a catalyst for Rose. It is the reason Rain is lost; the reason Rose learns the truth of how she came to own Rain; it is the element that will help her make a brave decision.

One other thing I loved about this book: Rose is fascinated by homonyms (mentioned above), and when there is one on the page, readers will know because the homonyms are placed in parentheses. At first I thought this would be distracting to readers, but then I realized it allows readers to have a window into how Rose’s mind works…while learning about homonyms themselves.

Do I recommend this book?

Absolutely!!! There is not a reader that I do not think should read this book. This needs to be read by everyone. I foresee this being on summer reading lists for next school year.

Have you read a realistic fiction novel lately that you just loved? Share below; let’s talk books.
Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator


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