Rain Fall, Ella West
Hands up those of us raised on a reading diet of Trixie Belden and the Famous Five, who sneakily always wondered why nothing "interesting" ever happened at home. RAIN FALL is a young adult novel set in rural, green, lush New Zealand, in a place that did seem strikingly similar to the green hills of England.
Annie lives with her parents in the small, isolated community, a horse obsessed teenager, who loves her glorious Chestnut gelding. When she meets young professional rodeo rider Jack Robertson, a romantic attachment starts to build, complicated by the fact that Jack's in town temporarily because his father is investigating the suspected homicide of Annie's neighbour.
The novel is an interesting undertaking - part teenage romance, part social flux and part murder mystery. Teenage romance as outlined above, social flux because the area is basically a coal town, Annie's father works in the industry and the push from society to move away from coal energy means that the ever present threat of retrenchment and lifestyle upheaval hangs over the town. And then there's the mysterious death of the neighbour that Annie grew up with.
The balance between society in flux and the murder at the heart of the town is nicely achieved in this novel, helped by very authentic characters and a good plot that doesn't dwell on the soppy or the icky too much at any point. The portrait of a town struggling with massive social change is particularly well executed, using the observations of a young girl trying to come to turns with so much change as the viewing port for everything. It's overwhelming, and yet educational, it's confusing and so often crystal clear.
Nicely done, without veering into the thriller territory suggested by the blurb, this is perhaps on the slightly lighter side than you'd expect from the subject matter. Subject matter that perhaps isn't as indepth and "sciency" as you'd like when you're four times the age of the intended market and more than a bit twitchy about climate science denial. But that's not the point, and you can definitely see RAIN FALL appealing enormously to young readers from the horse obsessed group in particular.
I'm not running late like I usually am. Maybe that's why I look in the river, maybe that's why I stop when I see it. A dark-coloured raincoat, the arms spread wide, floating, hood-first down the river.
And then it starts to rain.
Fifteen-year-old Annie needs to get to her basketball match, but the police have cordoned off her road. Is her neighbour, who she grew up with, still alive? What has he done to have the police after him?
A murder investigation brings new people to Annie's wild West Coast town, including a dark-haired boy riding the most amazing horse she has ever seen. But Annie is wary of strangers, especially as her world is beginning to crumble around her. In setting out to discover the truth Annie uncovers secrets that could rip the small community apart.