SPEAK TO THE RAIN by Helen K. Passey


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When Janna Miles, 17, and her sister Karen, 9, arrive at their new home deep in the forests of Washington State, their little family is in serious trouble. Mom was killed a year ago in an accident caused by a drunk driver; Karen, who was with her, feels responsible and is chronically depressed; Dad has turned testy and taciturn, abdicating responsibility to Janna and hiding behind alcohol. With the help of new friend Kyle, Janna is coping--until she realizes that Karen's fascination with the lake in the forest and the ancient totem she finds there is linked to an unknown past tragedy. (Thanks to a prologue, readers know that the uneasy spirits belong to 57 Native Americans drowned years ago in an earthquake-precipitated flood.) With the help of a knowledgeable teacher and a university-educated shaman, plus--most important--Dad, Karen is saved before the spirits can use her grief to help them into the after-world. Though this first novel's style is occasionally overblown, the real-world stow is involving, the setting suitably eerie, and the struggle to save Karen from the supernatural powers full of suspense. Bringing in two extra adults at the end does slacken the taut structure; but Kyle's problems (his logger father is a ""mean drunk"" when he's out of work) provide both contrast and a believable source of sympathy for Janna. (Note: it's not clear which sister is pictured on the attractive jacket, but she looks younger than the potential reader.)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Atheneum