Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
I never read the Baby-Sitters Club series as a kid (my mom was all about her kids reading classics and not paperbacks), so I missed out on that cultural phenomenon. I did know who Ann M. Martin was, and when I was browsing books at Barnes and Noble, I saw a new book of hers that was not at all Baby-Sitters Club-related. The book jacket description intrigued me, and I put in a hold at the library. I admit that while I have a soft spot for stories about Asperger’s individuals, this is absolutely a must-read for anyone.
Rose Howard has Asperger’s Syndrome. She is obsessed with homonyms (her name is absolutely a homonym), so much so that she gave her dog Rain (Reign, rein) a homonym name. She is not popular at school, but she doesn’t seem to notice that she does not have friends, because of Rain. Her father is trying to succeed, but struggles with her mother having left when she was two. When a huge storm threatens the safety of her town, Rain goes missing. Rose determines to find Rain, but to do so requires a kind of courage she has never known. She must leave the familiar paths of her life and forge into the unknown.
This is a beautiful and deeply moving story. Rose is a powerful protagonist for whom you cheer and wish to see succeed. Her voice is strong, and you can see inside her mind to understand how Asperger’s works. Her courage is remarkable, but it’s of the everyday, ordinary sort which is even more realistic. The quest narrative of searching for Rain is touching, as well, though if you are a weeper, you might want a Kleenex. This is a great story for kids and teens, as well as adults. I highly recommend it.