Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign is a contemporary realistic novel about a high-functioning autistic girl, Rose, and her dog, Rain. Rose likes homonyms and prime numbers and not much else other than her dog. Her teacher aid has to help her come up with conversation starters and tell her to look at people in the eye. Consequently, Rose stares at people really close and asks them what direction the front of their house faces. Technically, she is doing the right thing, but Rose doesn’t understand the nuances of social interaction.

Rose’s dad comes home from his local watering hole (as he does every day at varying times and varying degrees of sobriety) one day and brings her a dog he found in the back alley. The dog doesn’t have a collar so she keeps the dog after her dad says they can’t look for the owner. Rose is close with Rain and adds her into the daily routine. She is also close with her Uncle Weldon. He drives her to school and tries to help her understand Rose’s routine and anxiety. They cross their fingers and touch their hearts (which I thought was freaking adorable).

Then disaster happens (I’m not giving it away, this is on the cover summary). Her dad lets Rain out during a hurricane and forgets to let her back in, and Rain disappears. Rose is really upset and drives her dad nuts because her tics get worse when she’s upset. Rose devises a great plan to look for her dog and her uncle helps.

This is the premise of the story, but so many other things are happening at the same time and they are all amazing, even if some of them are bad. This is a great character-driven story and very introspective considering Rose has trouble detangling social situations. You grow to really care about her. She is courageous in a way that kids can be realistically. She stands up to her dad, she finds Rain by herself, she makes a real friend while being herself (even by shouting out homonyms and telling people they aren’t following the rules of the road). This is an AMAZING book for teaching inference skills (can you tell I’m researching that right now?). Rose’s character is ability-diverse, authentic, awkward, and is well-developed in the novel. The tone is emotionally intense without being overwhelming for young readers. It is also heartwarming and thought-provoking. I like that you’re not really reading a book about a “poor autistic kid” but a wonderful girl who works past her difficulties to find her dog. It’s a real story, not a disabilities story.

I totally want to give away the whole book and talk about what else I love about it, because there is much more, but I don’t want to ruin the fun! (I also want one of my co-workers to post her awesome thoughts about it! Cough cough.)