Perronne, Michael Holloway. “Embrace the Rain”, Chances Press, 2008.
Perronne is Back and Better
I have been following Michael Perronne’s writing since I feel in love with his first book. “A Time Before Me”. It was a story that touched me because it was about my home town, New Orleans. Then in his two books that followed, I noticed a more disciplined Perronne whose writing was becoming more and more polished. Now with “Embrace the Rain”, he is at his story telling best and his prose is the best he has written. (Of course the fact that the book is set near New Orleans and after Katrina did influence my opinion. There has not been a lot published about the storm that tried to carry New Orleans and the Gulf South away so when I do get a chance to read about it, I am like a kid eating popcorn at the movies. I was there during Katrina and did not know what was going on and I have not been back since I relocated to Arkansas),
“Embrace the Rain” is about teen romance and how it affects those involved directly as well as those on the periphery. The novel is set a year after Katrina in the town of Long Beach, Mississippi. Matt a high school football player is dating cheerleader Alison. Matt’s family is wealthy and the family business is involved in the rebuilding after the storm. Sean, Matt’s gay brother, who has been living in San Francisco, decides to come home only to face difficulties with his father who cannot accept his lifestyle. Matt’s father has therefore put a lot of pressure on Matt to be a real “man” since his other son seems to have failed at the job. Matt, however, is having his own problems and is suffering from a personal crisis that began when, during Katrina, he had to be rescued from his bedroom. Matt has chosen not to share his problems with anyone and because of this has no one to confide in or talk to. He has begun to feel trapped in his own little world.
Into the picture comes another family. The Santos family moves from California to Mississippi so that Mr. Santos can find work in the construction that was going on. His family now has to deal with both social and cultural change. Moving from their Hispanic neighborhood, they now have to live among Blacks and Whites who have their own problems dealing with accepting each other and now a Mexican family enters the picture.
As can be expected Mr. Santos gets a job from Matt’s father but no one was prepared what would happen when Javier, Santo’s son, met Alison. Matt and Javier have a differing of the ways (to say the least). When Alison breaks up with Matt, Matt loses it and hits rock bottom and even though Alison and Javier had not done anything more than be attracted to one another, they feel to blame for Matt’s depression and for what happens next.
Sean becomes involved in his family again but his father both rejects and disrespects him and he returns to California but when the family crisis peaks, Sean again steps in and his mother agrees to accept whatever help he can give. By opening the door to his world, she is able to see her son as the fine person that he is.
So what does “Embrace the Rain” do for us aside from being a wonderful read? I think what it does is show us that we all have the ability to overcome crises. In order to do that, however, it is necessary to be open to what we can learn when we are in crisis. Here is the story of a teen that needs help and people were too wrapped in their own worlds to see it or to even care. Almost everyone had to learn how to overcome guilt feelings and instead of waiting to do something, they should be ready to step in. We must all learn acceptance and understanding of ourselves and others.
Congratulations on a job well done, Michael. You just keep getting better and better.