Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin crafts a story that captivates young readers, while bringing to light complex issues of differing abilities and families. Melissa Gaynor from Sweet on Books explains:
What You Need to Know:
• When a super storm hits her town, a young autistic girl learns to cope with change and loss.
• Rose loves homonyms, and there are many examples of them throughout the story.
• Rose explains that her official diagnosis is “high-functioning autism” which is sometimes called Asperger’s syndrome. Then she asks the reader, “Do you have a diagnosis?”. That line explains a lot about Rose!
• Rose’s father is often absent and border-line abusive. He’s indifferent, unkind, and at one point he even raises his fist to her.
Rose Howard, a fifth grader living in a small town in upstate New York, loves homonyms, rules and prime numbers. Rose is autistic, and those concepts give her comfort and structure. She lives with her dad (her mom supposedly left when she was a baby) and their somewhat recent acquisition, a dog named Rain (reign). Rose has trouble communicating with other kids, she can’t always control her emotions, and she sometimes interrupts, disturbs and irritates those around her. Her dad, in particular, seems permanently exasperated by her and spends much of his time at a local bar. He simply doesn’t accept her behavior as something that she can’t control. Luckily Rose has a kind uncle, Weldon, who lives nearby and offers her support.
When Rain, her other main source of comfort, goes missing during a big storm, Rose is distraught. Despite her limitations, she devises a solid plan to find Rain, and with Uncle Weldon’s help, embarks on a tireless search. Unfortunately, her hunt leads to more questions than answers. When confronted with some surprising revelations, Rose is insightful and perceptive, and she makes an incredibly thoughtful decision.
While this plot may seem somewhat simple, Rose’s story is truly valuable and her character is certainly memorable. At first the inclusion of homonyms in the text is disconcerting, but after a few chapters, it becomes more natural. Rose speaks directly to readers, explaining her diagnosis of high-functioning autism and sharing details about her need for routine and the difficulties she has with too many visuals, too many people and too much noise. She reminds readers that a “diagnosis” does not define us, that we all contribute in different, yet positive ways to our families, our schools and our communities, and that accepting one another’s differences leaves all of us in a better place.
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