Rain Reign

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Rain Reign Book Poster Image
Poignant tale of autistic girl and her dog.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers may form their (there, they're) own mini-obsession with homonyms and can keep their own lists -- it's a great help for spelling tests. Although it's a very wide spectrum and there are many differences among those with autism, readers will learn some basics about how those with high-functioning autism often see the world: They crave order and rules, have trouble reading social cues, either avoid or crave different kinds of sensory input, and can have very strong interests, such as Rose being obsessed with homonyms. Readers also will get a good idea of how to search for a lost pet.

Positive Messages

Doing what's right is so important to the main character that she sacrifices her own desires and happiness for it. Along with any book about kids with learning differences, finding acceptance and understanding is important. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Rose is autistic and must overcome more obstacles than many kids to attend to class, understand her social world, and self-regulate under stress. Through much trial and error she finds ways to express herself with peers, confide in adults who want to help, and use her talents to try to find her dog. She feels so strongly that she should always do what's right that she sacrifices her own happiness for it. Her dad fails her in many ways, but her uncle is kind and compassionate and works hard to advocate for her.


Rose's father hits her dog, and she feels threatened by her father more than once when he's drinking and knows to avoid him. But there's a mention that he's never hit her. A hurricane uproots many families in town who have their houses washed away. No one is killed, but Rose loses her dog. Kids in Rose's class deal openly with their fears, with talk that one student's sister broke an arm. Talk that Rose's mother ran away when Rose was 2. Talk of a mother dying from a heart attack. Talk of Rose's father getting a scar on his face as punishment from his father before he was sent into foster care.


Rose mentions that she often hears her Dad swear, but readers see only "crap," "for God's sake," "freaking," "retards," "damn," "hell," and "frickin'."


Brief mentions: Coke, Dairy Queen.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Rose's dad is very often out drinking at the bar, leaving the fifth grader home alone. He also smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that readers may know Rain Reign author Ann M. Martin from her Baby-Sitters Club series. This is a sweet coming-of-age story of a high-functioning autistic fifth-grade girl named Rose. Rose loses her dog in a hurricane that washes away some of her town, causing stress and sadness in her fifth-grade class, but no deaths. Rose's father drinks daily, smokes, hits Rose's dog once in a rage, and mourns the absence of his wife, telling Rose she left when Rose was 2. Kids will learn much about homonyms from Rose, who adores them, while they marvel at her ingenuity in her search for her lost dog and her sacrifice when she decides that doing what's right is more important than her happiness. Though the autism spectrum is broad and every autistic person is different, readers may still begin to understand and appreciate their autistic classmates a little more as they get to know Rose. Rain Reign won the American Library Association's 2015 Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybookwormfamily October 30, 2019

Wanted to love it but felt disappointed

I had been looking forward to sharing this book with my daughter as it was hailed to be a great book showing a strong autistic main character. However instead... Continue reading
Adult Written bysmattole November 7, 2019

wanted to love it, but disapointing

I wanted to read this with my autistic daughter, but I felt the portrayal of the character was flat. It is a myth that autistics don't feel emotions. I kno... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 25, 2016

Really Good But...

I think Rain Reign is awesome, but there is too much violence with the father and I think the drugs thing could have been turned down a notch. Otherwise, I REAL... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 15, 2017

4.5 Stars

I loved reading this book! It is about 10-year-old Rose (Rows) Howard who has Asperger's and is obsessed with homonyms and prime numbers.

Rose's fath... Continue reading

What's the story?

Rose is an autistic fifth grader who loves homonyms, rules, and prime numbers, in that order. She explains to the reader that she's going to tell her story and immediately introduces her dog Rain (whose name has two homonyms). Rose and Rain live with Rose's dad in Hatford, New York. Dad spends a lot of time working as a mechanic and drinking at the bar next door. Rose and Rain are alone a lot, but Uncle Weldon drives Rose to school and helps her with her ever-growing list of homonyms. When Rain goes missing after a hurricane, Rose is devastated but determined to find him.

Is it any good?

Parents of autistic children are always looking for more positive and true depictions of kids on the spectrum, and this one fits the bill quite well. Parent memoirs are plentiful enough (and awfully heavy for the most part), but what do we read with our kids and their neurotypical siblings and peers that's at their reading level? Books such as RAIN REIGN are not that easy to find. And the spectrum is so broad there's no capturing the group as a whole. But Ann M. Martin's Rose does get to the heart of life as a high-functioning autistic child. Rose's intense interest in homonyms and black-and-white rule-bound thinking are right on. And yes, parents, your kid will start their own homonym lists after reading this. You've been warned.

Making Rose's father a slightly more sympathetic character would have added more depth to the story. Neither Rose nor readers ever get close enough to him. Rose's touching relationship with her Uncle Weldon does much to make up for this. So does Rose's selfless act near the end of Rain Reign. Rose's father may not understand her decision, but readers will. It's a lovely moment that gives Rose and all the wonderful autistic children like her the admiration and empathy they so deserve.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they know and don't know about autism. What did they learn from Rain Reign? What do they learn from their peers at school? 

  • For kids on the autism spectrum, do you relate to how Rose sees the world? Do you have strong interests in things that you like to share? Do you think your neurotypical peers understand you the way you'd like them to?

  • How did Rose go about looking for her dog? Would you have been that thorough? Would you have been able to make the sacrifice she does in the end?

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