Monday, March 7, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - RAIN SHADOW

When I picked this up at the library, I was intrigued by the cover and title. It’s about a girl coping with the loss of her sister and the changes that creates for her family. This is another book on the short list for the 2016 Silver Birch Fiction Awards from the Ontario Library Association.

Description from Chapters:

Bethany knows that she is special. She doesn't learn things as easily as her classmates do and that sometimes makes them mean to her. They call her names - including the really "bad" name. Even her mom and her sister Mira say unkind things at times. But Bethany has friends like her neighbor Mrs. Goldsborough as well as happy times with Dad when he gets home from work. And now, Mira has promised to protect her from the bullies when the new school year begins.

Then tragedy strikes, tearing Bethany's world apart in ways she could never have imagined, and she starts to wonder if there will ever be a place that feels like home again.

Rain Shadow was written by Valerie Sherrard and published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside in Scholastic Canada in 2014.

My Take:

I enjoyed reading this story, though the things that happened to Bethany and her family made me feel sad. At times, I also felt angry for Bethany, and disappointed in some of the characters who treated her unkindly. One of the best things about this story is the way the relationship between Bethany and her father deepens as their family troubles intensify. Bethany is an interesting character, showing strength and a never-give-up optimism even when faced with difficult challenges. This would be a good book for classroom discussions about special needs and different ways people handle grief.

From a writer’s perspective, this is a good novel to study to see how to create a first-person perspective. There are many instances where the reader has to infer what is happening based on Bethany’s thoughts and observations.

Opening Line:

“My sister Mira is the sun and I am the moon.”


“What I hate most is when someone talks about me and looks right at me at the same time. It makes me feel like I am a dead bug in a glass case like we saw one time on a class field trip.”

“I do not know if a house has feelings, but our house seemed like it was sad, just like Mother and Daddy and me.”

“I did not like keeping secrets. I was scared about what would happen if people found out. I tried not to think about them, only they kept coming into my head.”

Other Info:

Valerie Sherrard lives in New Brunswick in what once was a funeral home, with her husband and cats.

This novel is a companion to her novel, The Glory Wind, with glimpses of some of the characters. The Glory Wind was nominated for a Silver Birch Award too -- in 2012.

Valerie Sherrard was inspired to become a writer by her 6th grade teacher.


  1. Maybe living in an old funeral home predisposes you to write melancholy fiction! ;)
    This sounds beautiful, though.

  2. I agree with Faith. This sounds beautiful, but sad.

  3. Thanks for sharing this one. Read Glory Wind years ago. It was quit the book so am looking forward to checking Rain Shadow!

  4. I hadn't heard of this one. Sounds like a tearjerker!

  5. Such a sad subject. But it sounds as if the author handles it well. The quotes you shared are gorgeous.


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