The Boy Who Loved Rain
Lion Fiction £7.99
Church Times Bookshop £7.20
A NOVEL telling the story of a severely disturbed teenager who
starves and cuts himself and spends time on suicide websites
doesn't promise to be a satisfying and compelling read, but, though
Gerard Kelly's novel starts slowly, once the main characters,
16-year-old Colom and his adoptive mother, Fiona, reach the home of
Miriam, an English therapist resident in Brittany, it's hard to put
the book down.
Colom was illegitimate and seriously abused in childhood before
being adopted, aged two, by Fiona and David, and had a happy life
with his foster parents until his mid-teens. Then he starts to
dream of a sister: My sister is drowning. I have no sister. My
sister is drowning and I cannot reach her. With the onset of these
appalling nightmares, Colom's violent behaviour and self-cutting
begin, and he has to be removed from school.
Once he's settled down in Brittany, Miriam starts her redemptive
work. She goes slowly, not minding his refusals, his silences. She
doesn't fill them "with questions to move things along, like a road
mender filling potholes to ease the flow of traffic. She had
learned that potholes were her friends - it was the road that was
the problem, burying everything under its dark load of
Buried in Colom's mind is the ghost of a sister; slowly and with
difficulty her real existence is discovered. Her name is no longer
Rain, she lives in Denmark, and she's anorexic and as disturbed as
her foster brother. A meeting takes place full of uneasiness and
false starts, but the author is skilful in implying that there is
genuine hope for the two teenagers.
Overshadowing it all is the imponderable effect of the open
internet on young minds - its "social" websites, its permanent
interconnectivity, its invitation to release vicious (and later
regretted) comments best shared or fought over face to face and, it
is to be hoped, forgiven, and forgotten rather than offered for all
to tear apart online. There is little chance of redemption via the
world wide web.
Peggy Woodford is a novelist.