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By Bill VanPatten

IR Rating:
A psychological thriller with flashbacks that propel the story forward to the present, Bill VanPatten’s A LITTLE RAIN delves deep into what makes its characters tick.
IR Approved
Family secrets and lack of communication lead lonely sixteen-year-old Alexander to commit an awful crime and his parents to question their decisions in Bill VanPatten’s psychological drama A LITTLE RAIN.

Family miscommunication and unhealthy obsessions lead to tragedy in Bill VanPatten’s thrilling novel A LITTLE RAIN. Set in a courtroom and composed of flashbacks told through three perspectives, the book tells the story of Alexander Chance, an intelligent and anxious sixteen-year-old, who falls in love with his classmate Timothy. Timothy helps Alexander accept his sexuality and come out of his shell. However, when Timothy begins helping another gay boy in their class, Alexander becomes extremely jealous. Meanwhile, Alexander’s parents, who divorced four years prior, are blind to their son’s struggles. The father, Jonathan, is also gay, and as part of the divorce agreement, he is not allowed to reveal this truth to Alexander. The mother, Morgan, became very religious after the divorce, and she avoids any conversation with her ex-husband. The book alternates between the perspectives of father, mother, and son to expose details that build a picture of the full story of what happened to land the family in court. Near the book’s conclusion, the narrative switches to that of the judge, who interviews the three family members and announces her analysis of Alexander’s crime, which is not revealed until the book’s end.

The book’s structure works to build suspense and maintain a sense of mystery, divulging truths only when necessary to the scene at hand. Each perspective character shows solely their own view of what happened and how their biases, emotions, and personal histories shape their point of view. Jonathan, for instance, while sitting in the courtroom, thinks back on his own journey of discovering his sexuality; his homophobic father and his time growing up in the AIDS crisis led him to hiding the fact that he was gay through adulthood, only to be caught cheating on his wife with a man. Both parents are wrapped up in their own problems, leaving Alexander to fend for himself. Alexander’s point-of-view chapters thus show his loneliness and vulnerability, expounding on his parents’ chapters to show the reality of cause and effect. Each of the three perspectives build on each other and reveal truths about each other to make the plot more compelling.

Because much of the book takes place in flashbacks, the narrative puzzles together secrets to draw the story forward to the present. Once a full image of the events leading up to the court case emerges, the shift to the judge’s perspective offers an intriguing twist. An astonishing revelation in the book’s final pages puts a compelling spin on the plot and characters that elevates its psychological drama. The book’s exposition focuses on internal conflict and interpersonal relationships, delving deep into what makes the three main characters tick. Personality-driven dialogue bolsters emotions in already tense scenes. The writing’s pace slows in times of solemnity or intimacy, but picks up in scenes with anger or action to further engage the reader’s emotions.

A psychological thriller with flashbacks that propel the story forward to the present, Bill VanPatten’s A LITTLE RAIN delves deep into what makes its characters tick.

~Aimee Jodoin for IndieReader

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