Review Blog

Mar 23 2018

Rain Fall by Ella West

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2018, ISBN 9781760296834
(Age: 14+) Themes: Adolescence, Mystery, Murder, Coal Mining - New Zealand.
"I'm not running late like I usually am. Maybe that's why I look in the river, maybe that's why I stop when I see it. A dark-coloured raincoat, the arms spread wide, floating, hood-first down the river."
Set against the backdrop of a small New Zealand coal mining community, this elemental adolescent story is centred around fifteen year old Annie and her observations of rural life. Rain is a constant force throughout, driving the action, the body in the raincoat floats past Annie as she cycles to her basketball game. West's description of rain, water, weather sets up the moody tone of Rain Fall.
When her neighbour's house explodes and he's not found in the wreckage, Annie searches for his hiding place. Riding her horse Blue down to the rain soaked beach, she notices and scuffs out Pete's footprints in the sand. Annie is an observer; she listens in to conversations and watches out for the strangers who seem to be after Pete.
A murder investigation brings a new police detective and his seventeen year old son to Westport. Seventeen year old Jack Robertson a professional rodeo competitor watches as Annie and her chestnut horse hide the evidence of Pete's escape. Annie and Jack secretly meet at the rain-soaked beach, riding their horses and share stories about their lives. Jack probes her about her missing neighbour and slowly they uncover the truth behind the raincoat in the river. They begin a romantic relationship after she learns the truth about Jack's supposed girlfriend in the US. When her father's job driving the coal trains through the mountains is threatened, Annie's family is forced to face up to some hard truths. Annie's determination to find Pete, leads to a desperate confrontation in rugged bushland. Pete, Jack and Annie are forced to flee from the armed men who have been chasing Pete. They want the cache of hidden explosives to continue their criminal activities.
Rain Fall by Ella West looks at the environmental impact of coal mining in New Zealand and the ongoing dilemmas faced by the unemployed men and women. This emotive novel deals with violence and murder and is suited to more mature teenage readers.
Rhyllis Bignell

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