Rain Reign is a much lauded recent book by noted children's author Ann M. Martin. It tells the story of Rose, a young girl with what is described as "high functioning autism."
The book has been praised by critics and earned piles of awards. But here at AANE we wanted to know if Rain Reign rang true to a young person who has Asperger's (AS), so we turned to blog contributor, Mia J. Salaz. Here's what she had to say.
I finished the book in 2 days. The writing itself was amazing, and if I didn’t have standardized exams the next morning, I would have stayed up all night reading it.
I was asked several questions about the book, which I will now answer.
Did you, as a young woman with a diagnosis of AS who also knows a lot of people on the spectrum, think that Ann M. Martin’s portrayal of Rose was accurate?
Martin probably wanted the reader to understand that Rose had AS, and so, because the target reading audience was 9-12 year olds, she had to make Rose’s diagnosis painfully obvious. Most 9-12 year olds don’t really understand the subtleties and nuances in a piece of text. Martin might have assumed that her audience wouldn’t understand the fact that Rose had a disability unless she literally used every autism stereotype in the book. I’m giving her a pass on that because of her intended audience.
That being said, if Rain Reign was a young adult novel, Martin could have afforded to make Rose’s diagnosis more subtle because most readers ages 13 and up have figured out how to interpret things in a text that are not spoon-fed to them. Rose could have just been shy and chosen not to make friends, and that would be enough context for a teen reader to realize that Rose was somehow different from her peers. Obviously not every teen knows about the diagnosis of Asperger’s, so Martin would have had to explain that Rose had Asperger’s regardless of whether she was writing a board book for 2 year olds or a 500-page adult novel.