Rain, 11, knows that only a quarter of marriages survive a child’s death; she’s determined to make her parents “one out of four.”
The family members mourn separately. Rain’s burdened by guilt over the loss of her teenage brother, Guthrie; her dad’s withdrawn, angry, and depressed; her mom, briskly efficient, has forced a fresh start, finding a job in New York, where Rain must finish sixth grade 288 miles away from her old school in Vermont. Rain misses her best friend and the track team. Their new apartment is tiny; Frankie, the Dominican super’s daughter, is unfriendly; the urban density’s overwhelming. Her family is white and doesn’t speak Spanish, and their new neighborhood is a Latinx one. The only place Rain spots other light-skinned people is at the trendy cafe where they sip espresso. Through community-service projects, a school requirement, Rain slowly finds her footing. The track coach recruits her to run the 100-meter relay with Frankie, Amelia, and Ana for a city meet—that’s scheduled on the anniversary of Guthrie’s death. Realistic explorations of how grief divides a struggling family and gentrification erodes a community are balanced by the love and friendship among these diverse characters. Rain likes to count things and loathes dresses. Like Frankie and her friend who’s moved away, Rain might be gender nonconforming. Amelia stutters; Nestor might be homeless; Casey dislikes being touched. Each is seen whole.
Timely, well-integrated themes, a vibrant setting, and well-drawn, likable characters—the diversity’s unlabeled, but it’s there—make this a winner. (Fiction. 8-12)