Wednesday, February 25, 2009
REVIEW: The Rain Catchers
Thesman, J. (1991). The Rain Catchers. New York: Avon Books.
The Rain Catchers is about stories, storytelling and the condition of having an unfinished story. Gray, a fourteen-year-old girl, lives with her grandmother and five other women. She is dealing with the approaching death of one of the women, her best friend’s abuse at the hands of her father and having a crush on the boy who is repainting her house over the summer. She also struggles with her difficult relationship with her mother, who despite leaving Grayling with her grandmother for unknown reasons as a baby, now wants Gray to move to San Francisco to live with her.
This gentle and beautifully written book examines women’s roles, community and difficulties. Gray, herself, is a very emotionally intelligent character.
When first beginning this book, students should be prepared for the overwhelming number of names to be thrown at them. Within the opening chapter, the six house residents, Gray’s best friend Colleen and Colleen’s stepmother and father are introduced. Plus, Aaron, the crush-worthy house painter and three dogs are also presented. To help this, the teacher should encourage students to make a chart or glossary of the characters and their relationships.
Activities to do with the book:
A teacher could use this book to guide students in the craft of writing and storytelling. A class could also discuss ways the characters deal with trauma or how they gain empowerment.
“If I died,” Colleen says, her voice dreamy, “if a buffalo ran over me or I fell off a mountain, would you tell my father how much I hated him?” (p. 1).
“It’s my grandmother’s house, where we are safe, where the honeysuckle rain falls in the summer, where most stories have beginnings, middles, and ends” (p. 12).
“I don’t want to argue. I want to find something we can agree on and discuss, a reason for us to go somewhere else to talk” (p. 33).