Allison's Book Bag

Rain Reign by Ann Martin

Posted on: March 12, 2015

Rain Reign by Ann Martin is one of my favorite reads this year. I love the plot, the character, the style, and everything about it. It well deserves critical acclaim.

The plot includes a fifth-grade girl and her dog. Both winning combinations! It also involves a troubled father who has time to eat with Rose and lecture her, but not to drive her to school when she gets kicked off the bus or listen to her when she talks about her passions. Life might not been unbearable for Rose, if not for her uncle. In contrast, he not only takes her to school, but also invites her to movies and out for ice-cream. He also understands her need for homonyms. The plot doesn’t just happen at home, but also occurs at school, where Rose is in special education and has an aide her sits with her. Although Rose does have peers who connect with her, there are also those who roll their eyes at her or call her names. Finally, the plot involves a storm. During this storm, her dad lets their dog out to pee, but doesn’t bother to put on her collar or to wait for Rain to return from her business. Instead he just assumes, Rain will show back on the porch. But she doesn’t. Rain’s disappearance sets of a whole slew of events, some of which require bravery and others of which bring answers to questions that Rose has long-asked her dad.

The main character is eleven-year-old Rose, who has been diagnosed with Aspberger Syndrome. As with many young people with this diagnosis, she is gifted in math but not so much in social skills. For one thing, Rose believes that everyone should follow the rules. Moreover, she isn’t afraid to point out infractions, whether it’s a friend, a classmate, or even an adult who isn’t adhering to the strict letter of the law. If you think this makes Rose sound annoying, you would be right. However, Martin also shows from Rose’s other actions of how deeply she cares about her family, her friends, and being a normal young person. For example, Rose regularly reminds herself the importance of asking questions in conversations. Rose also understands a depth of emotions, even if she doesn’t easily sort through them or always have the appropriate responses. One of the most touching moments is when a classmate shares about her mother having lost all of her art in the storm. Rose instinctively realizes this is causing grief and she asks if the girl needs to have time outside of the classroom and then goes with her for support.

Style is a tricky thing. An author can have the main character talk in an average manner, but in being so normal the character becomes forgettable. Or an author may choose a less conventional style for the main character, but run the risk that readers never adjust to this unusual style. In Rain Reign, Martin opts to allow Rose to talk as a young person with Aspergers might. Everything is straightforward, with an emphasis on facts, such as: “I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a true story, which makes it a piece of nonfiction.” Everything is also analytical, with an emphasis on data, such as: “I live in a house that faces northeast…. Down the road, 0.7 miles from my house is the J&R garage, where my father sometimes works as a mechanic.” Everything is also driven by Rose’s obsessions, but combined with her recognition that she is different, such as: “I am the only student in my classroom who is interested in homonyms. This suggests to me that most kids are not interested in homonyms. So if you want to skip the chapter, it’s all right.” When I finished reading Rain Reign, I found it difficult not to think in Rose’s style; it was that memorable. Better yet, it sounds true to how those with Aspergers often talk.

Nothing in the plot is contrived. In her resilience and honesty, Rose is an appealing character. Finally, Martin picked the perfect style. Everything works in Rain Reign. Go read it.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

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