Rose has Asperger’s syndrome, and she stands out in her small town of Hatford, New York because of it. Rose wants to “belong” in a world she can’t quite grasp. Her father wants her to “be normal.” Her teacher and school aide struggle to help Rose adapt. Only Rose’s uncle, Weldon, and her pet dog, Rain, accept her as she is.
When a super storm wipes out the area and the roads flood, Rain goes missing. When Rose attempts to track down her dog, she’s faced with a lot of situations that normally unnerve her (speaking to people on the phone, for example). When Rose finds out some startling information about Rain, she must make a tough decision. Should she listen to what her father tells her because he’s her father, or should she do what feels right?
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin is told in Rose’s first-person point of view. There are some interesting things about this narration because of Rose’s developmental disorder; for example, Rose refers to certain chapters before their happen by their chapter title name:
I will tell you more about the rain my father brought [Rain] home in another chapter, Chapter Five, which will be called “When We Got Rain.”
Homonyms in parentheses are interspersed throughout the narrative, reminding the reader of how Rose’s mind works:
When Rain and I are at home… Rain puts one (won) of her front feet (feat) in (inn) my lap.
I found the supporting characters of Rain Reign to be incredibly strong figures. Rose’s father, Wesley, is a single parent. Gruff and quick to anger, he shows obvious frustration at Rose’s outbursts and often pleads with her to be “normal.” This seems to stem from a feeling of helplessness in his situation. He is neglectful as a parent; he spends his time at the Luck of the Irish bar down the street. He gives Rain, who he finds behind the bar, to Rose as a present, in the some love and trust from her. Wesley and his brother, Weldon, were placed in foster care when they were younger after a teacher found burn marks on Wesley.
Uncle Weldon is Wesley’s younger brother and Rose’s confidant. He is gentle and kind to Rose, and does not dismiss her like father does. Weldon encourages Rose’s love for homonyms and helps her works on the list of words she keeps. When Rain goes missing, Weldon offers to drive Rose around to various shelters. He is timid around his brother and does not want to step on any toes as far as Rose’s upbringing is concerned, but he’s always looking out for his niece’s best interest.
If you’re looking for a book with a lot of action and character development, this book may not be for you. Rain Reign is more of a character study, and while certain new character traits come to light, no one really changes. However, if you’re looking for a lens into a new perspective, and a story with a lot of heart, I recommend picking up Ann M. Martin’s book.
The suggested age range for Rain Reign is grades 4 through 6, but you’re never too old to enjoy a good middle grade novel, you know?