Skip to main content

Rain Reign

Review

Rain Reign

First things first. The dog doesn't die. Nevertheless, Ann M. Martin's new dog book, RAIN REIGN, had me wiping away tears at more than one turn. Martin's story of an unforgettable girl and her very special relationship with her dog is absolutely devastating, even if both the dog and the girl find their own bittersweetly happy endings.
 
After they've wiped away the tears, readers will find themselves uplifted by Rose's powerful story, her generosity and resilience.
 
Rose lives with her dad in a small house in rural New York. Rose doesn't remember her mom, although she often leafs through a box of mementoes her mom left behind when she ran away from their family when Rose was little more than a baby. Rose looks at the photographs and keepsakes and asks herself why her mom left --- could it have been Rose herself who scared her away?
 
Rose knows that she does have that effect on people sometimes. She has high-functioning autism, sometimes known as Asperger's syndrome, which means that it's easy for her to grasp rules --- especially rules about her very favorite subject, homonyms --- but it's often hard for her to have a typical conversation or to imagine what other people are thinking or how they are feeling. Sometimes when people break rules in her classroom, Rose has to let them know. Loudly. And that's not the best way to make friends.
 
At least Rose has Rain (reign, rein), the stray dog her dad found outside the bar where he spends (a little too much) time in the evenings. Rain loves Rose and would follow her anywhere, and Rose loves Rain, too, even though she sometimes has a hard time understanding or talking about things like love (or sadness, or fear).
 
That's why Rose has such a hard time when, in the wake of a terrible hurricane that strikes their town, Rain disappears. Rose blames her dad for letting Rain out in the storm (breaking the rule about letting her outside without her collar), but she also knows that if she wants to get Rain back, she's going to need to stretch herself far beyond the usual routines that make her feel safe. Her investigation leads to a discovery about Rain that forces Rose even farther outside herself --- and toward a selfless act that is both brave and heartbreaking.
 
Part of the difficulty of understanding individuals with autism is that they often do live inside their own heads, finding it hard to convey emotions and feelings with others. That's one of the things that makes RAIN REIGN so remarkable; through her narration in the voice of Rose, Martin shows us the rich, if often idiosyncratic, thoughts and hopes and worries and joys of a girl whose voice might otherwise not be heard. Martin portrays both human and animal relationships as vital and vibrant, both essential and hard-won for Rose. After they've wiped away the tears, readers will find themselves uplifted by Rose's powerful story, her generosity and resilience. And they just might start delighting in homonyms, too.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on October 24, 2014

Rain Reign
by Ann M. Martin

  • Publication Date: January 2, 2018
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • ISBN-10: 1250073979
  • ISBN-13: 9781250073976