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Shouting at the Rain

Book review by
Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
Shouting at the Rain Book Poster Image
Girl grapples with being abandoned in bittersweet tale.

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

Educational Value

Some information about the life cycle and habits of crabs, fish, sharks, and horseshoe crabs.

Positive Messages

Build bridges, not walls. Be yourself even if people criticize you. Your true friends are shelter in the storm. Invite success inside. Make a deal with yourself to make yourself happy. You either succeed, or you learn. Protect your deepest wishes and feelings because you are worth it. There's nothing wrong with crying. Connecting with others is very valuable. Love isn't perfect. A person is not made by his or her mistakes, rather what he or she does with them. One mistake is not a pattern and doesn't define a person. It's not what you look at that counts, but what you see. Family isn't about blood and the same last name -- it's made up of the people who love you. The sun is always in the sky, it just get's hidden sometimes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even though her mother isn't around, and her dad is a mystery, the people in Delsie's life who love her make her feel whole. Her grandmother is devoted to her, her neighbors would do anything for her, her true friends stand up for her.

Violence

Ronan hits a kid for harming a horseshoe crab and is taken into custody by police. Ronan's dad is known for using his fists more than his brains.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Game shows like Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune, Let's Make a Deal, Monopoly, Pine Sol, Boston Marathon, Red Sox. Some local shops and restaurants in Cape Cod, like Sundae School.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Delsie's mom has long-standing issues with drugs and alcohol, which is why she's not a caregiver in Delsie's life. Drug and alcohol are not consumed in front of kids, but their use is referenced.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shouting at the Rain is by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, author of Fish in a Tree, which also features a strong girl who's been dealt some hard knocks. Seventh-grader Delsie McHill lives with her grandmother, who's a caretaker for a summer rental property on Cape Cod. Delsie's favorite summer friend has befriended a mean girl, who teases and bullies Delsie. A new kid in town named Ronan has his own problems with his parents, and he's been acting out, getting in fights, and making dangerous decisions. Delsie learns that her mother was drinking and taking drugs too much to be able to take care of her. She worries about what will become of her if Grammy were to get sick or die, but her neighbors and friends help calm her fears and make her feel safe.

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What's the story?

In SHOUTING AT THE RAIN, Delsie McHill, a seventh-grader living in Cape Cod, Massachusets, doesn't know where her mom is, has never known her dad, and hasn't really thought about any of it until a friend who's starring in a production of Annie asks her what it's like to be an orphan. Delsie's enthusiasm about the summer quickly turns to disappointment when her old friend Brandy begins hanging out with a mean girl named Tressa, who influences the way she acts. The things they used to do together are suddenly uncool to Brandy, as Tressa makes fun of Delsie's bare feet, her obsession with the weather, and anything else that makes Delsie unique. Luckily, the new boy in town, Ronan, shows that he's loyal, and is no stranger to heartache. The two of them team up to have adventures, learn about what makes locals on the Cape special, and about what family really means.

Is it any good?

Emotionally rich and brimming with life lessons, this story paints a unique picture of lower-middle class life in the resort destination of Cape Cod. The feelings explored in Shouting at the Rain feel very real. Like how it feels to suddenly realize that you don't know your mother and father, and that it matters. Like how much it hurts to be rejected by an old friend when her interests change. Or how dirty your house, your grandma's car, and your feet are in the eyes of someone more privileged than you. What it feels like to fight for what you think is right, how love wraps you up in an embrace, and how the right people matter.

This story combs through themes of abandonment and loyalty in a way that kids will appreciate. As in Fish in a Tree, author Lynda Mullaly Hunt explores a sensitive subject -- in this case, being abandoned by a parent -- and after expertly poking at the wound a little, makes it feel better with the help of some wise adults and friends who truly care. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mean girls and changing friendships in Shouting at the Rain. What happens in real life when friends change? What other books or TV shows deal with this issue? Do you like how Delsie handles this situation?

  • Is Delsie an orphan if she's being raised by her grandmother? What makes a family? Can you think of movies or books that reflect what your family looks like? 

  • What can a kid do if a parent is dinking too much or doing drugs? Who are Delsie's trusted adults? Who are yours?

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