Monday, May 7, 2018

Rain Reign

Rain Reign
by Ann M. Martin
Recommended Ages: 10+

Rose is a high-functioning autistic fifth-grader who lives alone with her dad and a dog named Rain. Rose loves homonyms, rules, and prime numbers in that order. She loves them so hard, she needs a personal aide at school to help her control her enthusiasm. Coping with the unpredictable noise and movement of life would be difficult for her at the best of times, but it gets particularly hard when a hurricane blows through town, trapping Rose and her father in their yard and changing the landscape around them. Worst of all, Rain disappears during the storm, thanks to a lapse of judgment on her dad's part.

Rose's inability to stop asking him why he let her dog out in a hurricane without its collar works on both of them, increasing the tension in their small household to a breaking point. At the same time, however, her search for Rain brings Rose closer to her classmates at school, who used to treat her like a freak. At the same time, the search forces Rose to look farther outside the boundaries of the home, the school, and the town where she has learned to feel safe. Along the way, she is aided by a gentle uncle whose protectiveness of her, even against her dad, is among the most touching things in this story. The girl's fear, her isolation, even her resentment of her dad register in the heart of the reader. What happens after she finds Rain goes beyond "touching" and "registering" to a heart-wringing emotional climax.

This book, written from the point of view of a bright girl with Asperger's syndrome, is on the most basic level the story of a search for a lost dog. It also becomes, along the way, the story of a search for a loving family and for common ground with people who process reality quite differently—in a word, friends. It goes right on my list of books to recommend to people interested in fiction about autism, along with Gennifer Choldenko's Moose Flanagan series (Al Capone Does My Shirts, etc.).

Ann M. Martin's writing credits include literally hundreds of children's books, and I mean HUNDREDS, many of them in series related to "The Baby-Sitters Club" as well as the "Doll People," "Kids in Miss Colman's Class," "California Diaries," "Main Street," "Pearl and Lexie," "Family Tree," and "Missy Piggle-Wiggle" series. Her standalone titles include Bummer Summer, Inside Out, Missing Since Monday, Ma and Pa Dracula, The Amazing True Story of Leo the Magnificent, A Corner of the Universe, Everything for a Dog, How to Look for a Lost Dog, and about 20 more. I don't think I could catch up if I tried.

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