What initially attracted me to Alice Wisler’s book Rain Song was the mention of Japan. Nicole, the protagonist, was born to missionary parents in Japan, then came abruptly back to the US as a toddler, never knowing the details of the fire that took her mother’s life. Through her hobby of writing for an online pet website, she “meets” a man who knows more about her past than even she does.
Most of the story is centered in the Deep South, not Japan. Nicole teaches school, visits with her grandmother and her great aunt, and hides away from the world in her house. I’m not sure if the author intended to make Nicole so easy to pity, but each and every insecure interaction she has with others, every self-absorbed decision she makes, and every phobia she expresses left me concluding that whatever happened in Japan should have required years and years of therapy. As the book goes on, the mystery is solved, and while it is indeed sad and heartbreaking, it felt a little anti-climactic given the intense drama that Nicole experienced in her own head leading up to its revelation.
I thought I would most enjoy the descriptions of Japan and the memories Nicole was able to recount of her time there, but the most entertaining part of the book was (by far) her grandmother and great aunt. They were quirky spots of sunshine in an otherwise very dark and sad story where no one seems to find much of any redemption. This might have been intentional by the author in order to avoid being cheesy or trite about Christ, as is characteristic of some Christian fiction. But while I finished the book with at least a tiny shred of hope that Nicole would actually be okay, I had no hope at all for her father, her cousin, her stepmother, or anyone else! I suppose, though, that if everything had been tied into a nice, neat package by the last page, that wouldn’t have been very believable. And this story is definitely believable.
I’m going to read more of Alice Wisler’s books in the future. Not because this book was the best book I’ve ever read, but because it was different than the rest of the books in its genre. It may not have had the happiest ending, but it was believable, which I can certainly appreciate.
Any good Christian fiction recommendations?