In Gerard Kelly’s The Boy Who Loved Rain, Miriam’s husband is a pastor who routinely speaks on good parenting to packed auditoriums. That’s why he doesn’t want Miriam to tell anyone about the difficulties they’ve been having with their fourteen-year-old son: Colom is getting in fights at school, acting depressed and defiant, and waking up screaming most nights from reoccurring nightmares. When Miriam finds a suicide pact in Colom’s room, she knows she can’t keep quiet any longer. She takes him to the French village of Portivy, and there, on the rainy, windswept cliffs, secrets are revealed that shed light on Colom’s depression and the reason for his nightmares.
When I first opened The Boy Who Loved Rain, I was unsure if I would like it because I thought the prologue was confusing and the quote from Wikipedia at the beginning of Chapter 1 was silly. I also knew it was written by a pastor, and I wondered if it would be a “Christian” book.
But I’m glad I kept reading because I found much to admire in the novel, and although many of the characters were Christian, I wouldn’t characterize it as “Christian” literature. By the time I got to the end of the book, I felt as if I’d been on a journey with an interesting set of characters, and suddenly the prologue (and the italicized passages interspersed throughout the novel) made sense. In fact, I went back and reread those passages along with the prologue, delighted with my new-found understanding.
What intrigued me the most about The Boy Who Loved Rain was the heartbreaking situation — parents with a troubled child, and secrets of their own. I was immediately invested and wanted to know what would happen to Colom and his parents.
The novel is beautifully written (Gerard Kelly is also a poet), yet with enough twists and turns in the plot to keep me turning pages. If I had been Kelly’s editor, I might have trimmed some of the descriptive passages and deleted the quotes at the beginning of each chapter (in my opinion they detract from the elegance of the novel). Overall, however, The Boy Who Loved Rain is an absorbing family drama written with skill and grace, and because it touches on so many emotional topics (marital problems, child abuse, adoption, suicide, drugs), I think it would make an excellent book club selection.
To see for yourself, order The Boy Who Loved Rain, or fill out the form below for a chance to win your very own free copy! Then scroll down to read a Q&A with the author, Gerard Kelly.
Q & A with Author Gerard Kelly:
A large portion of the novel takes place in a French seaside village called Portivy. Your descriptions of Portivy are so detailed and loving, I feel like you must have spent a lot of time there.
Yes. We first discovered Quiberon and Portivy almost 30 years ago, and have been there on average once a year ever since. Portivy is a very spiritual place for me — I often pray there and have used it more than once as a writing space.
Most of the story is told through the eyes of Miriam, Colom’s mother, and Fiona, Miriam’s friend. What made you decide to write from the perspective of two women, and was that at all a challenge for you?
I’m not actually sure — it just turned out that way. I was raised by women — my father left home when I was 10, my elder brother not long after, so I spent my teenage years hanging out with my mother, two sisters and a couple of favourite aunts. I think I learned without even realising it to appreciate their view on the world. I didn’t intend to write from that perspective, but as the novel unfolded, I found myself more drawn to Fiona and Miriam than to anyone else.
Yes it is a challenge, in the sense that I am scared that women readers will say ’that’s just not how it is!’. So far very few have, which is encouraging.
Your book touches on so many family issues: adoption, marital problems, child abuse, suicide, drug use. As a pastor, are these issues you have come into contact with while serving your congregation?
We have worked with a lot of young adults over the years, as well as leading church, so yes, we have seen and heard a lot. The novel is definitely fiction, but most of the issues touched on in it come either from my own experience or from events others have shared with me.
To me, The Boy Who Loved Rain would make a great book club selection. If you were to add book club discussion questions to the end of the book, what might one of them be?
I think I would ask, who is the character that most resonates with you and why? Want is it about their journey/development that rings true?
You have written fourteen books… Wow! Tell us about some of them. How does The Boy Who Loved Rain compare to your other books?
Many are in theology/missiology or biblical studies. ‘Rain’ is my first novel. It’s a totally different approach to writing and has been a) frightening and b) pretty much the most satisfying experience of my writing career. I’ve also published three volumes of poetry, one of them in Twitter format — prayers and poems in 140 characters or less.
Is this your first time being a part of a book tour? What other kinds of marketing do you use to spread the word about your books?
Yes it is — it’s been a blast! I try to spend time on Goodreads every now and then just to keep an eye on things, and I love to read and review other people’s books — but that’s about it at the moment.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?
Fight for the right to write. If you want to write – or as Dorethea Brande says ‘to become a writer’ – you HAVE to fight against distractions, lethargy, discouragement etc to carve out time to write. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write, and simple as it sounds, that’s the toughest part of the deal.