Monday, February 19, 2018

Things to do when it's raining by Marissa Stapley

4 Star

When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?

Mae Summers and Gabriel Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge the St. Lawrence river. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lilly and George. A childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love—a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe’s unexpected departure. Mae grew up, got over her heartbreak, and started a life for herself in New York City.

After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay. Hoping to find solace within the Summers’ Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline and their past unravelling around her. A lifetime of secrets stand in the way of this unconventional family’s happiness. Will they be able to reclaim the past and come together, or will they remain separate islands?

Kathryn - 4 Star

My thoughts on this novel come a fair amount of time after reading the story - occasionally I have to let something sink in before I can put down my ideas.

I’m not sure I loved the novel as a whole but there are aspects of it that have clearly stuck with me.  Stapley is a fantastic writer and her words always give a clear picture of setting, surrounding and of “mood”.  By this I mean that I feel the characters energy from the way she writes.  In this book though I didn’t connect with any one particular character- I liked some of them and empathised with them but I didn’t really bond with them.  I felt more of a connection for the town, the countryside and the water than I did with the people.  I think initially there were a number of people to get to know which made it a bit difficult to keep track of and Mae’s introduction to us as an adult in New York, with the dramatic downfall of her relationship, didn’t seem to have a lot to do with the rest of the book except to ground her present while examining her past.  There was a pretty big gap of knowledge about her life between the present and the childhood we examine- I wish we had had some more snippets of the years in between.

Gabe is a heartbreaking sole who grew up with not only the physical uncertainty of an alcoholic father but also very little to stake his emotional growth on.  His relationship with Mae’s grandparents is parental but they cast him out which sets a trajectory for an emotional void in his adulthood.  It’s no wonder he was difficult to connect to as a reader. 

Mae’s grandparents also held their own batch of secrets which probably would have been better suited to be brought out into the open well before they were and caused much pain and sadness later in their lives.  

On the whole the novel is a powerful example of how families function throughout their lives with great secrets but it shows the pitfalls of retaining things for too long.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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