Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin is the story of a Rose Howard, a young girl on the autism spectrum. Rose has a difficult time at school. Because of stimulus overload, sometimes Rose has outbursts in class. She is assigned an aide who sits with her and helps to monitor her behavior. In addition, she gets a report sent home to her father. Virtually friendless, Rose spends her days gathering homonyms for a special list she keeps, as well as calculating numbers based on the letters in a person’s name.
Rose lives with her father, and her uncle takes her back and forth to school each day. Her mother, she is told, has run away and left the family. Rose is profoundly lonely, as it seems that all her father does is work and drink at the bar down the street. He is exasperated with Rose’s behavior and frequently asks her to better control herself.
When her father finds a dog, he brings it home and Rose names it Rain (since that is a homonym). She adores this dog and when Rain is lost in a storm, she seeks to recover her friend. Through a twist of fate, Rose is required to do what is right instead of what she would like to do. This results in her losing her very best friend. She is, by far, the most honorable person in this book.
Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this book to any child reader. Rose’s father is down at the bar more often than he is home. He lies to Rose about what happened to her mother. He is at odds with the uncle, who is the only positive family relationship in the book.
At one point, the father raises his fist to his daughter after calling her a “brat”. (Rose is questioning her father about why he let the dog out without a collar during a huge storm. A reasonable question, if you ask me.) When the dog tries to protect her, he punches the dog on the back and there is a crack. The girl gets under the table, cowering in fear. Later in the book, the dad also threatens to punch the uncle and a boss that fires him.
Finally, at the end of the book, the father abandons her. He dumps her on the uncle’s doorstep at midnight after only allowing her a few minutes to collect her belongings. Her uncle tells her the truth about what happened to her mother—which is less painful than the lie she has been told about her mother choosing to leave her.
I don’t care about the hardships in the father’s life. You don’t get to abuse everyone because of your miserable little life. The only characters who make noble sacrifices in this book are the uncle and Rose. The father is just a jerk.
I would never put this book in my classroom library, and I would never encourage any child to read it.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Regina