Enduring memories are made in the season of summer. Bonds between people in families and friendships will strengthen or diminish. Perhaps it has something to do with the longer days, the heat or thunderstorms. Or maybe it's because there are variations in work, school and play schedules with vacations to be enjoyed. Whatever the reason, seismic shifts occur which last a lifetime.
An author with the ability to see all the emotional parts of the human heart as evidenced by her first two books, One for the Murphys and Fish In A Tree has a new title. Shouting At The Rain (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House L L C, May 7, 2019) written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is about learning to appreciate what you have rather than mourning what you believe you need. You'll connect immediately with Delsie and those who truly care for her.
There are two kinds of people. People who like surprises and people who don't.
Yet, by the end of the first chapter, our protagonist is truly surprised. She's always lived with her game-show-loving Grammy. She's never thought of herself as an orphan. By the end of chapter two, Delsie's summer friend, Brandy does not seem to be herself. She's pulling away from those things they enjoyed together ever since they were little.
Within the next few chapters, we are introduced, during a lightning storm on the Cape, to a strange boy dressed in long black pants and a black, long-sleeved shirt, standing in the water at the beach's edge. His name we discover is Ronan Gale, son to the new caretaker at the cottages where Delsie's grandmother cleans. The next morning, a new girl, Tressa, is playing cards with Brandy. Her mother works with Brandy's mother. They are staying nearby for the summer. Tressa has a first-class case of I'm-better-than-you-are.
More people, long-time Cape Cod friends, Aimee and Michael, and neighbors, Henry, Esme and Ruby Lasko and rough-on-the-outside but soft-on-the-inside Olive Tinselly whirl around Delsie like welcome puffs of fresh air. All these people in Delsie's world are bound by common experiences; weekly cook-outs, wild storms, visits to Saucepan Lynn's, frequenting tag sales, clamming, whale-watching, fishing, rescuing a runaway, facing great white sharks, the summer performance at the local playhouse and running in a race. There are hidden gems in our everyday lives as each character knows or discovers.
As this narrative of a remarkable summer comes to a close there are more surprises in store. When stories are shared, and love flows from heart to heart acts of kindness are not random. At the center of a circle, whether it's a hurricane or a tree framed by four houses, there is calm. When we look down upon those houses and that tree, we will also see a light fueled by humans who've learned the greatest joy is that which we give to others.
When writing a blog post I always read the titles more than once. In doing this I've found the written words and wonderful images offer more dimensions and reveal more perspectives. My copy of this title by Lynda Mullaly Hunt was already peppered with sticky notes after my first read but I found myself adding more and more reminders on pages when I read it a second time.
When you read a book by Lynda Mullaly Hunt it's as if you've opened a treasure chest filled with her warm-hearted wit and wisdom. The thoughts and growth of her characters are realistically portrayed to the point we feel as though we are them. She allows us to see who we want to be (and who we don't want to be). You want to wrap up some of the conversations and carry them with you everywhere.
When reading about Delsie and each person who touches her life, we are reminded again and again how important every uttered word and completed action, large or small, and how we react to those words and actions, has value. It shapes us. This is the power in this book written with meticulous care by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Here are a few of my many marked passages.
"You be careful, now," she says, and she kisses her palm and pretends to blow it in my direction. Since I was little, I've always play-slapped my own face as if getting hit with kisses. But I can't manage it today.
On the beach I walk at the water's edge, watching small stones roll back and forth with the waves. The same way Aimee's orphan question rolls back and forth in my head.
"Well, then," I ask, stepping forward. "Why did she go? Tell me the truth about my mom."
"Oh, Delsie. Why do you want to talk about all that? There's no reason to stir up sad things."
"I know you don't like to talk about her, but I don't understand why."
"The same reason I don't drink coffee," Grammy says. "Because it hurts my stomach and makes me feel all terrible inside, and why would I do anything that makes me feel like that?"
"She laughs a bit. "It isn't the tea, Delsie. It's that tea is so often shared. That's when friends lean forward and look each other in the eye. They laugh. They do more than hear; they listen. They connect, and anything that matters in this whole . . . wide . . . world is about connection. It's what makes all the hard stuff I talk about bearable."
She whips her head around. "I'd sooner paddle out to that storm in a metal skiff with a flagpole strapped to my back than leave you here to watch such a thing."
I guess some friends are just glitter, and some friends are glue.
You'll laugh out loud and you'll cry. Your soul will be brimming with the wonder of the compassion found in the truest hearts of these characters. Shouting At The Rain written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is a book to hold close. We can't change the weather, but we can be prepared, even if it surprises us. We are prepared through the strength of those who love us and those we love. I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal book collections. It will make for a marvelous read aloud or book club selection.
To discover more about Lynda Mullaly Hunt and her other work, please visit her website (and blog) by following the link attached to her name. Lynda maintains accounts on Instagram and Twitter. At the publisher's website you can read an excerpt. John Schumacher, Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, premieres the book trailer on his blog, Watch. Connect. Read. Lynda Mullaly Hunt visits the Nerdy Book Club for the cover reveal, It's All in the Names and A Living Breathing Ronan Gale. Lynda Mullaly Hunt is featured at Publishers Weekly in an interview.