When rain turns to snow by Jane Godwin

cover image

Hachette, 2020. ISBN: 9780734420053.
(Ages: 12+) Highly Recommended. When Rain Turns to Snow by Jane Godwin is a thought-provoking and contemporary upper middle grade novel. On a cold, rainy night thirteen year old Lissa is home alone when young teenager Reed appears at her door. He is holding baby Mercy who is definitely not well. At first Lissa does not let them in but eventually her understanding of the dire circumstances of the strangers causes her to relent and offer them food and shelter. When her older brother Harry comes home from footy training, Reed races outside with Mercy and camps in the shed. Runaway Reed begs Lissa to keep his presence a secret until they find out why he has a strong connection to Lissa's mother.
Lissa herself is a very deep and appealing character who has a love of language and words. She shows confusion and despair over her relationships with her school peers, her mother's new relationship and is a staunch supporter of her much maligned and deeply depressed older brother Harry. Seventeen year old Harry has secretly suffered terribly from insidious social media posts to the point where he is at risk and his relationships with both Lissa and their mother is one of constant angst. The stranger Reed is a gentle, empathetic and environmentally aware boy who has recently discovered a life-changing secret about his own place in his family. Baby Mercy is his niece whom he has vowed to care for but sadly her health is deteriorating.
Ultimately, through a skilfully written series of events, all of the unknowns become known and the reader is left with a sense of hope that maybe everything will work out for each of the characters. Throughout the story many secrets are both kept and eventually unravelled. Connections are made and lost and the confusion for those on the cusp of becoming a young adult are very real and pertinent to today's society norms.
Adolescents are dealing with a myriad of complex and disturbing situations which they rightfully question and challenge at times. Jane Godwin has an intuitive and sensitive understanding of these young lives and their deepest thoughts and worries. She has been able to carefully represent these in an emotionally powerful read.
When Rain Turns to Snow
would be an outstanding class novel, so many important issues to be uncovered, shared and discussed. The cover design by Allison Colpoys is really quite striking and the beautiful title has its own place and connection in the story. Themes: Friendship, Family, School, Relationships, Adoption, Social Media, Bullying, Climate change, Secrets, Connections.
Kathryn Beilby