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"Rain Reign" by Ann M. Martin



I’m having a hard time reconciling my opposing viewpoints about Rain Reign by Ann Martin. It probably comes down to my dislike of books about problem kids. So, I’m predisposed to find something I don’t like. But it’s a good book with a strong plot and a likable narrator and I plan to share it with at least one of my book clubs. Well, I might. Maybe. In any event, it’ll probably be among the books talked about for the Newbery Award

Rose, our narrator, has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism, sometimes called Asperger’s Syndrome [total aside, my kid’s pediatrician believes that further research, especially in the area of genomic testing, will show that autism and Asperger’s are not on the same “spectrum,” but different syndromes with similarities]. She is obsessed with words that sound alike but mean different things, prime numbers, and following the rules. She is sensory-sensitive and often disruptive in class and at home, despite being very intelligent. 

So, here’s my first nit to pick. Rose tells us on the very first page that she knows words that sound alike but have different meanings are homophones, but she calls them homonyms throughout the novel. If Rose is so adamant about following rules (something that is shown over and over again) and loves homophones so much, why does she call them homonyms? [Another aside, homophones are a subset of homonyms.]

Second nit, in many of these problem kid books, there is a saintly person who understands the child better than most and does not ever lose patience with him or her. Filling the role here is her uncle Weldon. Rose’s father, a widower, though we don’t find that out until the end of the book, is running out of patience for his child and comes off as jerk. In fact, beyond Rose, there aren’t any well-developed characters.

Which may make sense … Rose is the narrator. Rose has Asperger’s. We only see the other characters from Rose’s perspective. BUT aren’t writers supposed to “show” and not “tell” anyway? Can’t their actions toward Rose be more nuanced? Maybe?

As I said, the plot and Rose are the strong selling points of this novel. You’ll read the book quickly – and not just because it’s short – but because every scene, every action makes sense and advances the story. You will care for Rose and root for her. And, like other novels of this ilk, maybe learn a little bit more about the problems some kids with these disorders face.

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