Moving realistic and funny story about growing up and living with sibbling being “different”.
A dramatic new novel about the bond between a teen and her twin brother.
Rain has taken care of Ethan all of her life. Before she even knew what autism meant, she’s been her twin brother’s connection to the hostile world around him. She’s always prepared—when her father abandons them, when her mother gets sick, when Ethan is tortured by bullies from school—Rain is the reliable, stable one holding them all together. She’s both cautious carer and mad chef, preparing customized meals for her family and posting crazy recipes on her cooking blog.
Each day with Ethan is unvarying and predictable, and she’s sure that nothing will ever change—until one night when her world is turned upside down by a mistake she can’t take back. As her new romance with her long-time crush and her carefully constructed life begins to unravel, she discovers that the fragile brother whom she’s always protected has grown into a young man who no longer needs her. And now, for the first time, she finds that she needs him.
I’ve been given an ARC by Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.
4,5 to 5 stars
When I read Sourcebooks Fire Editorial Manager Annette Pollert Morgan’s note it said:
“At Sourcebooks, we talk a lot about how books change lives. (…) We are passionate about finding narrative with authentic teen voices that create -and validate- the teen experience in all its diversity. We’re looking for dynamic storytelling that engages teens and make them want to read our books, then turn around and share those books with their friends. Because we want our books to be the stories, the characters you remember.”
Well Annette I can honestly say that Rules of Rain accomplished its mission.
Dear readers I apologize for what will probably be once more a longish review as I have so many things to say about the book. I will compromise and give you a summary first and then dive in deep if you still are interested.
In a nutshell this story is:
Realistic in its description of the daily life families being graced with the presence of an autistic child experience. I’ll delve further into this topic below but what Leah Shreier wrote about autism and how it affects the whole family is spot on.
Uplifting because in spite of the serious topic this book is filled with humor! I’ll wrote the first sentences somewhere below but I was laughing alone on the street while reading the book. Yes I readwalk I’m weird like that.
Loveable as the characters main and side are easy to fall in love with. Rain and Ethan are unique, courageous, loyal, kind and united you can’t not like them. The side characters are not just added for the sake of it either as they have their own battle and side stories, especially Liam.
Enlightening because you will leave this book with no more preconceived ideas about autism. It also reminded me all the struggles of finding yourself when you are a teen. How there is not one story in a divorce but two stories. That nothing is ever black or white but rather shades of grey.
Sweet because we speak about teenage love. The first attempts, often clumsy interspersed with shy smiles. You make mistakes because you want to impress the other. Sweet because Ethan for all his robotic exterior IS sweet and cute. Ethan will surprise us with his wisdom and his attempt at soothing Rain proving that he definitely is NOT a robot but has many emotions.
End of the nutshell
Bone marrow of the story:
Sorry to use this anatomical pun but Ethan corrupted my mind. What can I say when I read about detailed description of intestines or when Rain went back home to find a gigantic hologram of a human colon sitting where the refrigerator was meant to be?
There are many variations of autism and in some cases like Ethan’s these kids are terribly smart and ingest huge amounts of facts and theories as easily as I would empty my Rocky Road ice gallon.
Ethan loves anatomy and have big dreams for his future.
Now there is a big problem as it’s a struggle to be around people, noises, lights, odors. Everything is invading his personal space overstimulating. Ethan has been in Germany all his life -figure of speech- having all these feelings trapped inside and unable to express them to others. Now he has to learn German even if it’s with the help of Google translate.
All her life Rain has been the one to calm him when he was in a deep crisis. She was his human blanket.
Rain has built her life around her brother. She has planned her future to stay close, never really wondering what SHE wanted. This was truly admirable. I LOVED that Rain was not ashamed of Ethan and if people wanted to be friend with her they had to accept her brother. They were a package deal. But now Ethan wants his independence. He does not to need her all the time anymore. She’ll be shocked and hurt by some unexpected reactions and decisions he made. He lied to her that brother who can not lie!
Honestly I shed tears while reading about Rain lost without Ethan. She was conflicted. Of course she should be happy. Ethan was moving on becoming independent broadening his friend’s circle. But they had been glued to the hip for so long…suddenly she felt empty, adrift. She also had to trust Ethan. Let him take risks even if he could be hurt. That was hard for that loyal and caring girl.
More than a simple story about autism it’s a story about finding yourself. Who are you really? What makes you happy? At this time of your life where everything is possible you have to choose your path and choose it wisely.
Characters will make mistakes because nobody’s perfect. We are human and growing up is also realizing that the Manichean view of the world is a false one. That you are entitled to love people even if they hurt you in the past. You have to forgive to get better. Sometimes we will make decision that we will regret for a long time while we made them to protect others. But that’s life: you stumble, you fall and you get up. You learn.
This book has been a splendid experience. Cute, sweet, hilarious, grave, sad.. I could apply many more adjectives to this story.
Will it leave its mark in your reader’s experience? I bet on it!
Quotes just for the sake of it!
Rain’s foodie blog excerpt:
“Dear Lovesick: We’ve all heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. So don’t squander this opportunity by bringing chips and dip! Instead, knock him dead with a double dose of aphrodisiac. How about avocado chocolate mousse with agave nectar? Both avocado and chocolate are packed with libido-boosting fats and vitamins. Did you know the Aztecs forbade virgin women from leaving their houses during the avocado harvest because they feared the sexually overwhelming powers of the avocado? That Casanova snacked on dark chocolate before romancing his date? Well, you can use these ancient food secrets to make your boyfriend hot for you!”
Ethan’s journal excerpt:
“The route by which human pheromones turn us on. (Notes from R. Douglas Fields’s Sex and the Secret Nerve) Note: This may explain the Hope phenomenon. Proposed experiment: Attempt communication with subject during day four of upper respiratory tract infection (when congestion most interferes with the olfactory process). Alternative: Stuff cotton balls in nose next time she visits.”
“I’m used to finding pictures of unappetizing body parts taped to random places in our home. This is, however, the first time the refrigerator has gone missing.”
“The truth is, I’m lingering at my friends’ houses because I don’t want to go home. For the first time in my life, I have no idea how to act around Ethan. What am I supposed to say to him? How can I explain feelings to him that even I don’t understand?”
“Yeah. You’re basically the chemistry antitutor. You make me stupid.” It’s the strangest compliment I’ve ever gotten. But it makes me smile anyway.”
Thanks for reading!
Wonderful review! It really sounds like an incredible read! I’m glad you loved it! ☺️
It really was Raven! Thank you 🙂