When Rain Turns to Snow


Publication Date: 30 Jun. 2020
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9780734420053

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    A runaway, a baby and a whole lot of questions...

    Lissa is home on her own after school one afternoon when a stranger turns up on the doorstep carrying a baby. Reed is on the run -- surely people are looking for him? He's trying to find out who he really is and thinks Lissa's mum might have some answers. But how could he be connected to Lissa's family -- and why has he been left in charge of a baby? A baby who is sick, and getting sicker ...

    Reed's appearance stirs up untold histories in Lissa's family, and suddenly she is having to make sense of her past in a way she would never have imagined. Meanwhile, her brother is dealing with a devastating secret of his own.

    A beautiful and timely coming-of-age story about finding out who you are in the face of crisis and change.

    Information

    Book Type: Senior High
    Age Group: 15 years +
    Traffic Lights: Amber
    Class Novel: Yes
    Good Reads Rating: 5/5
    Literary Rating: 5/5

    Review

    Lissa lives in Melbourne with her mum, a physiotherapist, and older brother Harry. Their parents have separated, and her father now lives in Beijing with his new partner -- who is expecting twins through IVF. Lissa is struggling to make new friends at her school after her best friend Hana has moved to Perth. When Lissa returns from school one day a 13-year-old boy, Reed, is standing on her porch holding a sick baby.


    Reed has just found out that he is adopted, and thinks that Lissa's mother, Fiona, is his birth mother. The baby, Mercy, is his niece. His older brother is only nineteen and is struggling with addiction, and Mercy's mother has abandoned them both. Reed is trying his best to care for Mercy, but she is cold and hungry -- and they have nowhere to go. Lissa insists that they leave, but Reed wants answers and stays in the family's shed in the hopes of talking to Fiona and finding out the truth.


    Meanwhile, Lissa's brother Harry is growing distant and reclusive. Lissa's new "friends' at school tell her that rumours are circulating about Harry being involved with her friend Amber, and imply that he posted a partially nude photo of her on an anonymous Instagram account that "rates' Year 8 girls.


    Lissa doesn't believe that Harry has done this, but the other girls are insistent that he's behind it. Harry asserts that he did receive the photo but deleted it (without sharing it) before asking Amber not to contact him again.


    Lissa eventually works out that Amber set up the anonymous account and posted the photo herself, both for the attention and to get back at Harry for rejecting her. Harry, a talented footballer, almost quits the team because he dislikes the culture the boys have created about scoring the girls. Harry is also struggling with his sexuality, and comes out later in the novel.


    Lissa continues to help Reed with Mercy in secret, as he refuses to return to his parents. They buy formula and clean nappies but are seen out together by her "friend' Sadie's mother. When Reed is officially reported missing, Sadie's mum texts Fiona and tells her to expect the police. Reed shows up with Mercy limp in his arms. He and Lissa run with her to the ER, where she is admitted, and Reed's parents are called.


    The mystery unravels when Fiona turns up. She explains that it's true that she had three pregnancies -- but Reed is not her son. His mother, Melanie, fell from a freeway bridge trying to write a protest sign about the Wombat State Forest. Fiona was driving underneath when Melanie's body hit her car. Reed was saved but Melanie died, and Fiona miscarried her baby as a result of the shock. Reed's adoptive parents agree to foster Mercy while his brother finds his feet.


    Lissa is forced to confront her own parentage as well. Although she has always known she was conceived through IVF, Fiona reveals that they had to use a sperm donor due to her father's cancer treatment. Lissa initially feels betrayed that her parents kept this from her but eventually accepts that this doesn't change her relationship with her father and her family.


    Lissa and Reed go to the Wombat State Forest and find his mother's grave. In the cold, the rain gently turns to snow. Reed and Lissa keep in touch, and they reflect on family as being more than just something you are born into.


    A charming, beautifully written mystery novel that explores belonging and acceptance.

    Themes

    family, friendship, parentage, IVF, adoption, addiction, cyber-safety, LGBTQ+ environmentalism, family secrets

    Content Notes

    1. Mild reference to drugs -- Reed's brother is an addict (p. 10). 2. Underage drinking (p. 216). 3. Mentions of suicide: Harry writes a to-do list with the final point being "kill myself' (p. 61). Mention of a Year 12 student at another school committing suicide (p. 45). 4. Someone starts an Instagram to rate Year 8 girls, posts nude photo of Amber (she is topless, there are emoji pictures covering her nipples) (p. 102). 5. Language: shit x 6, dick x 1.

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