Title: Apple and Rain
Author: Sarah Crossan
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Format Read: ARC, 330 pages
Publication Date: 1st September 2014 by Bloomsbury Australia
Synopsis: “When Apple’s mother returns after eleven years of absence, Apple feels whole again. She will have an answer to her burning question – why did you go? And she will have someone who understands what it means to be a teenager – unlike Nana. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother’s homecoming is bitter sweet, and Apple wonders who is really looking after whom. It’s only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is, that she begins to see things as they really are.
Like a brilliant hybrid of Cathy Cassidy and Jacqueline Wilson, Sarah Crossan entices you into her world, then tells a moving, perceptive and beautifully crafted story which has the power to make you laugh and cry.” (Taken from Goodreads)
You know a book is an office favourite when its ARC comes wrapped in brown paper and a packet of tissues. I remember staring at the tissues and thinking, “oh no, I’m not ready to cry myself to sleep every night!” But Apple and Rain is more than just about loss and sadness, it’s a beautiful story about finding comfort in family.
Apple’s mother left her when she was young to pursue her career in New York. Lost and left with the burning desire to understand why her mother left, Apple continuously yearns for the day of her mother’s homecoming. She dislikes living with her Nana because of how strict she is, and hates her dad’s new wife. When the day her mum does return, Apple jumps at the idea of living with her again without thinking twice about how this affects the other people in her life.
After Apple moves in with her mum, she discovers that she has a half-sister named Rain. A young girl with bright red hair that treats her doll Jenny like it’s real. Apple and Rain do not get along at first, with both believing the other is intruding on their lives with their shared mum.
Apple’s life is sad and the reader can definitely understand the feeling of loss she feels for her mother. Although she had a loving parental figure in her life, she still yearned for the love of a motherly figure. In contrast, Rain has that motherly figure but has never experienced the same love and affection that Apple has received from her Nana. The strict rules imposed by Apple’s nana is a vast difference to the lax upbringing Rain has experienced. It’s not hard to imagine why Rain relies on her doll so much, it’s the one figure in her life that’s always been constant.
I really loved the sisterly dynamic between Apple and Rain. This book is essentially a story about them, but more than that, it’s about accepting the family you’ve been given and loving them as they are. Even with all their scars and mistakes.
Apple and Rain’s mother is the prime example here. She refuses to grow up and take up the responsibility of a parent, even when she has two daughters that are relying on her. She throws parties and let’s Apple get drunk on alcohol on a weekly basis. On the days she’s not hungover, she goes off to find work in London and lets Apple skip school to take care of Rain. Her irresponsibility is a contrast to her strict mother, who in a way forced her to rebel and leave Apple behind to pursue her own dreams.
Other than family, another strong theme in this book is friendship (and a little bit of romance). Highschool life is already hard enough to navigate, but when you lose your best-friend to the popular crowd, it becomes significantly harder to endure. The stress of high school resulted in Apply happily skip school to take care of Rain, who was bullied because of her doll and refused to go to school as well.
The only upside Apple felt about school was her english classes, where the teacher encouraged her to pursue her poetry writing. Poetry become an outlet for Apple, where she could finally express her real thoughts rather than hide behind the facade of happy normalcy. Because obviously, her life was anything but normal.
The book is beautiful inside and out, but the ending was truly a treasure. It was all about forgiveness, and most of all, about second chances. I didn’t cry as much as I expected, but of course I did shed a few tears. Come on, you know me. My eyes leak at the drop of a hat!
Apple and Rain truly is a wonderful book. Please, please pick up this book. It will open your eyes and heart to the meaning of family.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for a copy in exchange for an honest review!