Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

As fifth grader Rose Howard, 11, will tell you, she has a diagnoses of high-functioning autism, or Asperger's syndrome.  She is also obsessed with homonyms, calms herself by reciting prime numbers when she gets upset and likes rules to avoid getting overwhelmed.  Rose lives with her angry, impatient, not terribly understanding mechanic dad, Wesley Howard who spends a lot of his time drinking in The Luck of the Irish.

Luckily, Rose has her Uncle Weldon, who totally gets her, and Rain, a dog her father found and brought home to her.  Everyday, Uncle Weldon drives Rose to and from school during which they talk about any new homonyms either may have come up with, so that Rose can add them to her painstaking handwritten alphabetized list.

Everyday, Rose comes home and takes care of Rain, after, she sometimes looks through the box of Rose-related stuff her mother left behind before she walked out on Rose and her dad.  Then she makes dinner for her and her dad, then she and Rain wait to see what kind of mood he will be in.

One night, Rose hears on the radio that a storm is coming, a superstorm "of epic proportions" as the forecaster describes it.  But when she tells her father, he brushes it off saying they are too far inland for a storm to reach them in upstate Hatford, NY.  But a few days late, the storm is a real threat so Rose and her dad go out and buy emergency supplies just before the it hits.

And Superstorm Susan is epic,  Trees are knocked down in their yard, their small bridge onto the road is washed away, the power goes out and the wind continuously howls outside Rose's bedroom, she and Rain lay huddled together for warmth and safety.

But in the morning, Rain isn't there, or anywhere in the house.  During the storm, her dad let Rain outside to pee and she never came back.  Rose is beside herself and as days go by and Rain still doesn't return, Rose devises a plan to start searching rescue shelters with the help of Uncle Weldon, a plan that forces to step out of her comfort zone of rules, homonyns and prime numbers to find her dog.

Weeks later, when she finally locates Rain, Rose is in for a terrible shock, and the repercussions of it will change her life dramatically.

Rain Reign is not the easiest book to read but kudos to Ann Martin for taking on the task of writing a much needed middle grade novel with first person narration in the voice of a girl with Asperger's and for getting it right.  Martin draws an empathic picture of Rose's world, showing just how much of her social interactions are learned behaviors, how she is prone to behavior problems such as inappropriately calling out in school, and how she orders her world with rules and categorizable interests (like homonyms), and her difficulties with the kids in her class, who often refer to her as "retard."

Martin's depiction of Rose is spot on, but her portrayal of a father who is completely clueless about his daughter is also, unfortunately, true to life.  While we like to think that when a child gets diagnosed with a serious condition like Asperger's their parents are understanding and supportive, that just isn't always the case.  Wesley Howard isn't exactly abusive, but on occasion, when his frustration levels get high, he does raise a fist to Rose but never acts on it.

Rain Reign is an important. powerful book about family, love and loss that should not be missed.  Rain Reign would pair very nicely with Kathryn Erskine's Mockingbird.

This book is recommened for readers age 10+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is a weekly event hosted by Shannon Messenger at Book Ramblings, and Plenty of Shenanigans


  1. Love the title and the story sounds intriguing. First person POV's are hard to pull off. Can't wait to read this one. Thanks for recommending.

  2. Oh, I like Mockingbird... so I'll really have to check out Rain Reign.

  3. I thought of Mockingbird when I started reading your review (and I really loved Erskine's book), so I'm sure I would like this too. I've heard a lot of buzz about it.

  4. I'm intrigued by the bond between Rose and her dog, and the challenges of looking for Rain. Thanks for the recommend, and happy MMGM!


  5. I loved the sound of this almost from the very beginning of your review. The storm and the loss of Rain must add to the excitement, but the story behind all that appeals to me just as much.


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