Living In The Rain
Cassie Pennebaker is a student at Kent Community College, hoping to someday be a foreign correspondent. Joe Baker is her boyfriend with a dream of his own: to finish up his education at Boston University with Cassie by his side. Sally Bishop is Cassie’s grandmother and the only relative she is close to after her mother abandoned the two of them to remarry. Sierra Kole is Cassie’s fast-living coworker at a pharmacy, and Rick Smollett is a neighbor with an unsettling obsession. The dynamic personalities and desperate wants of these five play off one another, escalating into a situation that promises to be untenable for everyone involved.
At least, they would if all five were equally as dynamic. As it is, the three side characters (Sally, Sierra, and Rick) have the most drive, while Cassie and Joe seem content to do little more than go back and forth about their conflicting dreams and responsibilities. Joe wants Cassie to move away to Boston with him. Cassie feels bound to look after her grandmother, who is mentally ill and incapable of taking care of herself. It’s a conflict that many readers may find touches close to home. Being a caretaker for a mentally ill relative can be extremely difficult, and Ormsby doesn’t sugarcoat Cassie’s situation in the least. She’s in a position that calls for sympathy and understanding, both of which would be easier to give if we saw her offering more of them herself.
This brings me to my main struggle with the book: I felt Ormsby expected us to feel more for the characters than she gave potential for. Joe often reflects on Cassie’s empathy and high moral code, but for about a third of the book, we really only see her bitterness and sense of superiority to everyone around her. The three side characters, while given strong motivation and distinct voices, all feel one-dimensional. At times even the conflict itself did. If this were a morality play, I could tell you exactly how it would pan out from the first few chapters. Sally does get some depth, but it comes late and isn’t explored as fully as it could be.
Living in the Rain is not an easy book to read. No book dealing with such heavy topics could be. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite live up to the ambitions it sets out for itself, leaving it somehow too easy to get through. In the end, I simply wanted more from it than it was able to give.
|Page Count||289 pages|
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