Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin ( facebook )
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends
Target audience: Middle grade
Keywords: Aspergers, OCD, hurricane, family, dogs
Format read: ARC paperback from Macmillan. (Thanks!)
Summary: When a hurricane hits inland, Rose’s best companion — her dog named Reign — goes missing. What happens when the one stable thing in your life disappears?
I didn’t realize how timely it would be to read Rain Reign, with the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy coming up. Like Rose’s father said more than one time, the storms never catch them! It was so similar to what we were all saying until the storm came and conquered. I may not have lost my dog, but the storm forever changed one of my favorite spots from my childhood so I understood this feeling of disarray and loss in the book.
Ann M. Martin is no stranger to my bookshelf. I’ve been a huge fan of The Baby-Sitters Club series since I was young, I’ve read a ton of her other books so, of course, I jumped at the chance to read her latest. I haven’t read a ton of books about children with Aspergers syndrome (in fact, I can only compare this to the TV portrayal of Max on Parenthood) but she handles it with sensitivity and authenticity. Rose’s dad cannot grasp his daughter’s tendency to discover new homonyms or recite prime numbers. Most importantly, he doesn’t understand that she cannot control her outbursts and it was heartbreaking how frequently he left her to her own devices.
Thankfully, Rose isn’t totally alone. She has her Uncle Weldon, who drives her back and forth to school and has such a soft and patient way of communicating with her. The total opposite of Rose’s father, unfortunately. (Definitely a point of contention between the brothers too but less of a focus in the story because hey it’s written for middle graders.) And then there is Reign, the dog that Rose’s dad found on a rainy night (get it?) and never leaves his friend’s side. Weldon and Reign provide the most stability for Rose, and for someone who needs routine to get through the day, they were as necessary in her life as food or water or shelter. They kept her going.
The hurricane touching down wreaks havoc on more than their town as Reign goes missing and the routine and life Rose has known changes completely. And it’s not over yet. Martin does such an effective job of showing how isolating Rose’s disorder is through her relationship with her dad and the students in her class, but there is the flip side of it too. Rose is smart, thoughtful, and believes in doing the right thing. She is capable of handling a lot even if she does have some difficulties day to day. Furthermore, there are dependable people in her life who help her work through her behaviors. (Kudos to Martin for including Rose’s teacher aide; they rock!)
At any age, we are always scared of the things we don’t know and so much of Rain Reign is about being accepting and understanding we all have hurdles to jump through.