Today’s recommendation falls into category #9, A book written by or about someone on the autism spectrum.
Title: RAIN REIGN
Written by: Ann M. Martin
Published by: Feiwel and Friends, October, 2014
Themes/Topics: Aspergers, homonyms, loss, rules
Suitable for ages: 7-12
Awards: Schneider Family Book Award for Middle School (2015), Charlotte Huck Book Award (2015)
I am Rose Howard and my first name has a homonym. To be accurate, it has a homophone, which is a word that’s pronounced the same as another word but spelled differently. My homophone name is Rows.
Most people say homonym when they mean homophone. My teacher, Mrs. Kushel, says this is a common mistake
Rose, a 12 year old girl redoing 5th grade, has a number of obsessions, which include homonyms, prime numbers, rules… Her uncle Weldon and teachers do their best to embrace and work with Rose’s differences but her classmates and single dad especially have a much harder time understanding her obsessions. For the first time in her life Rose has weekly progress reports sent home to her dad, who is not handling them well.
In chapter two, Rose explains how they adopted a dog a year before, who arrived during a rain shower. As you can imagine the bond runs deep between Rose and Rain-a dog loves routines and is never going to tire of her lists and talk of homonyms!
When Rain and I are home alone together we sit inside on the front porch and Rain puts one (won) of her front feet (feat) in (inn) my lap. I rub her toes (tows), and she gazes into my blue (blew) eyes, which are the color of a chocolate bar.
When a hurricane hits the rural community in which Rose lives, houses and roads are flooded, bridges destroyed, electricity lost and Rain disappears due to the thoughtlessness of Rose’s dad. Rose has to leave her routines and comfort zones to try and find Rain. This journey is compelling and bittersweet in its outcome but a gripping read to the last page.
Why I like This Book:
This is a book that had to be told in the first person. The narration is structured perfectly through the mind of a young girl on the higher end of the autism spectrum with her need for routine and rules, her obsessions, her intelligence, and her compassion and sense of right and wrong.
The characters are fully fleshed out and real. The contrast between the father and uncle is effective and Rose’s own special bond with Rain will bring many readers to tears.
I believe the author did a fabulous job of depicting an Aspergers child. There are many poignant moments for example when Rose explains how she is doing with learning to use “conversation starters” that were not about homophones or prime numbers, (as suggested by her teacher’s aid). Then those beautiful moments when she begins to make a connection with the other kids in school.
Henderson comes out to 102, which is clearly not a prime number. Olivia is not a prime number name either. I don’t know if this means anything.
Serious life subjects, such as a parent’s incapacity to deal with a special needs child and his own pain due to abuse, are discussed with just the right amount of detail. The novel talks about a wide variety of things beside autism, including bullying, parental frustrations, love, loss and so much more. The bullying scenes are so authentic as is Rose’s interpretation of events and her goring capacity to empathize.
Any middle grade reader will thoroughly enjoy this story. The chapters are short and the author packs a punch in the careful yet concise details Rose shares of her world. The characters are all believable and Rose is especially likeable in the way she rises at the end with such grace to deal with the situation of losing Rain.