Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rain Song by Alice Wisler

Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis from cbd.com: Nicole Michelin avoids airplanes, motorcycles, and most of all, Japan, where her parents once were missionaries. Something happened in Japan...something that sent Nicole and her father back to America alone...something of which Nicole knows only bits and pieces. But she is content with life in little Mount Olive, North Carolina, with her quirky relatives, tank of lively fish, and plenty of homemade pineapple chutney. Through her online column for the Pretty Fishy Web site, she meets Harrison Michaels, who, much to her dismay, lives in Japan. She attempts to avoid him, but his e-mails tug at her heart. Then Harrison reveals that he knew her as a child in Japan. In fact, he knows more about her childhood than she does...

Review:  There are certain books that I always save for vacation, for a time that I can relax and best appreciate them.  I have enjoyed seeing Rain Song on my shelf since receiving it as a Christmas gift several months ago, and I just treated myself to reading it during a recent trip to the Hudson River Valley. 

As I began reading Rain Song, I expected the plot to consist mainly of Nicole's experiences in Japan, but I soon realized that taking the steps to travel to Japan is the greatest part of the journey.  Like me, Nicole Michelin does not like the thought of flying, and she has her share of insecurities.   Like all of us, she has certain fears and past experiences that she must face before she begins to fully embrace her future.  We may have dreams and desires to accomplish something, and we may know how to take a series of small steps to get there, but taking action is often the most difficult part. Opportunities can be overshadowed by our own fears.   

Rain Song is a deeply moving novel that resonates with the part of each of us that has experienced loss, self-doubt, and fear.  Written in first person, Nicole shares her daily thoughts about her relatives and past in a way that often jumps from topic to topic, much like our own minds.  She has avoided her painful past and the mystery that surrounds the death of her mother, but the loss has left a gaping hole in her heart.  Nicole deeply loves her aging grandmother, but fears losing the only mother-figure that she can remember.  After beginning her correspondence with Harrison,  she is given the opportunity to learn about the past, but only she can fully overcome her fears.

Alice Wisler has crafted a very well-written and thought-provoking novel that will both inspire and challenge each reader.  I highly recommend Rain Song to be used in a reading group as well because it offers many possibilities for  discussions.

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