Apple and Rain
London, Bloomsbury, 2014, 329p
This is such an incredibly and irresistibly heart-warming book, it was a joy to read.
Apple has vague memories of her mother leaving, late one night around Christmas, leaving her with her Nana. And every year, Apple dreams that her mother will come back and claim her again. Nana is loving and well-meaning, and Dad is distantly present, popping up at important holidays; but it is her mother that Apple wants back.
But when her mother eventually does come home, things aren't quite like Apple expected. She moves away from her Nana, but her mother isn't around much anyway, and Apple has unexpected company in her mother's flat. Apple tries to find comfort at school - she loves her new poetry teacher, but is scared about opening up with the truth; and meanwhile, her best friend is moving on.
As her mum's absence increasingly becomes a social welfare issue, Apple does all she can to protect her mother from a potential visit from the police. Apple is forced to grow up far quicker than any young girl should have to, and as you read you long for her to be returned to her Nana's guardianship.
Despite all the badness happening around her, Apple is a patient, contentious young lady. She doesn't get mad at her mother when she is away for days; she is far from the typical teenager.
Throughout the Apple and Rain, Crossan treats the reader to snippets of Apple's creativity, inspired by great poets and universal themes. At points, it seems like poetry is the only good and true thing in Apple's life. I love the infectiousness of her love for the written word, and I am sure many young readers (and writers) share Apple's fear of sharing her most honest feelings with her teachers and classmates.
It is amazing that a novel that explores a young girl's confused feelings about her absent mother can be so uplifting and enlightening.