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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Apple and Rain, written by Sarah Crosson. Bloomsbury, Penguin. 2015. $19.99 ages 13 and up

“RAIN!" I shout.

I dash into the sitting room, and
search every tiny space. Behind
the couch. In the cupboards.
Under the chairs.
But I can't find her. I can't find
her because she's gone, along
with her coat and boots.
And the most frightening thing
about it: she's left Jenny behind."

When her mother sets her sights on Broadway and a life in America, Apple is goes to live with her grandmother. Apple is only 3. Nana is a fine caregiver, but to the now 14 year old adolescent, she is overprotective and controlling. So, when her mother returns, Apple's most ardent wish comes true. Now, she can live where she is supposed to live! Leaving Nana behind, Apple looks to having more independence and freedom.

It doesn't take long for Apple to see what kind of parent her mother is, and to try to reconcile her dreams with the reality. Can she forgive her mother for leaving and having no contact for such a long time? Her mother says she wants her, and Apple takes a chance on her. Turns out that her mother needs more care than Apple does, as does her stepsister Rain. Apple has a big heart, and wants to be needed. So, she does her very best to be what her mother needs. In trying to do so, she lies at school and does things that she knows are wrong. It is hard to watch it happen to such a caring young girl.

It breaks the reader's heart, watching the inevitable happen despite all of Apple's best efforts. She loves unconditionally, she is brave and tougher than the life she now leads (if that is possible), and cheeky at times. Fending for herself and her sister is a huge task, not taken lightly in any way. The only real joy in her days since her mother's return comes when she is in English class writing poetry that allows her to express her truths and emotions.

"Disappointment by Apple Apostolopoulou

All the time Mom was away,
Eleven long years,
I saved up my hopes
Like little pennies in a jar.
I didn't know her, so I made her up -
And I made her perfect.
In my mind, Mum shimmered like the moon against the sea -
Ghostly and romantic.
But now I know that
She is scratched and stained
And all that's left is disappointment.

I thought when she came back
I'd have everything that was missing
From my life.
Now all I have
Is an empty jar with
A hole in the bottom to stop
New hopes from heaping up."

 Heartbreaking, yet hopeful at its conclusion, it is brilliantly written and needs to be read by everyone!

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