When It Rains....: Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
I am Rose Howard and my first name has a homonym. To be accurate, it has a homophone.
I like homonyms a lot. And I like words. Rules and numbers too. Here is the order in which I like these things.
1. Words (especially homonyms)
3. Numbers (especially prime numbers.
My official diagnosis is high-functioning autism, which some people call Asperger's syndrome.
Although she's advanced in reading and math skills, Rose has a hard time in school. As she is able to observe, only one person in her class, Parvani, has any interest in her long list of homonyms. Rose deals with anxiety by shouting out prime numbers, which even Parvani has no interest in and which her other classmates find either scary, bizarre, or hilarious. And Rose feels obligated to point out the slightest lapse in rules, even her teacher's, so that she is assigned an aide to sit with her and take her out into the hall when her outbursts distract the class.
But Rose has her dog, Rain (with seven white toes and three homophones, reign and rein), which her father brought home, wet and lost late one night, from the Luck of the Irish Bar where he was drinking. Rain greets her joyfully every afternoon when Uncle Weldon drives her home from school and keeps her company at night when her father is out. Rose knows the rules of dog care, and she makes sure that she follows them all with Rain.
Then when a Hurricane Susan moves inland to where she lives, her father lets Rain out into the storm during the night, and she doesn't come back. To keep herself from falling apart, Rose works out a methodical strategy to find her pet. On a local map she draws concentric circles with her house at the center and enters the names of all the animal shelters in the area. She begins calling with the nearest ones, and when Rain is not reported found, moves on to the next circle. Then, in the last circle, the manager of Happy Tails Shelter tells her that she has a dog with seven white toes, and Rose knows it has to be her Rain.
But she also finds out that Rain has a microchip who shows that her owners are a family named Henderson who have left their storm-damaged house and cannot be located right away. But for Rose, rules are rules, and she feels that she must find that family and return their dog to them. But her father doesn't understand.
Rose's father seems furious. Out of work and silent, he leaves every night after supper, and Rose spends a lot of time alone in her room, staying out of his way, glad that Uncle Weldon still drives her to school and back. But Rose is still anxious, and one afternoon, something happens.
"Do you have a minute?" Uncle Weldon asks.
My father steps away from the hood of his truck. He wipes his hands on a rag that is hanging out of his pocket. "I guess."
"Well, I've been thinking. Rose here... Rose here should have another dog. Don't you agree?"
My father snorts. "Rose here didn't appreciate the dog she had, the one I got her. She gave it back when she could have kept it."
I was trying to do something nice for her. The one great thing I did. The one great thing...."
"But a dog--" Uncle Weldon said. "It's lonely for her. I mean, when you aren't around."
"You think you know best? You don't know best. NOT ANOTHER WORD!" My father slaps his hands on the side of his truck.
"Are you sure you know what's best for Rose?' Uncle Weldon asks quietly.
And then one evening, after midnight, Rose's father wakes her with one sentence.
"I'm taking you to Weldon's."
"My father is gone," Rose says to her uncle when she is left at his door.
Newbery author Ann M. Martin's Rain Reign (Feiwel and Friends, 2014) displays the essence of realistic fiction in a novel that has the power to reveal human personality with all its flaws and virtues. Rose is an admirable and resilient character who tells it as she sees it; as flawed as he is, her father loves her enough to see that his brother is right about what is best for his daughter; and even Rose's teachers and classmates are finely drawn from life. In its depth and the insight revealed for each character, this book is a real tour de force for this notable author, one that should be in every library for every child. Kirkus Reviews says, "... no fluff here, just sophisticated, emotionally honest storytelling." And Booklist concurs, "A strong story told in a nuanced, highly accessible way."