Publishers Weekly Review
Rain lives with her alcoholic father in a homeless camp outside Seattle. Despite threats to dismantle the encampment, Rain believes that those who live there-the Winterfolk, she calls them-are essentially invisible. Her only friend is King, a homeless 17-year-old who has taken it upon himself to look after her. When King takes Rain into the city to celebrate her 15th birthday, he crosses paths with Cook, a petty drug dealer, and that's where the trouble begins. Debut novelist Kolby explores homelessness through the eyes of a teenage girl who can't remember not living in a tent in the woods; a stripped-down narrative voice and the language of fairy tales shape Rain's worldview. Kolby creates a believably naïve main character, but some readers may find Rain's musings, which are often repetitive and opaque ("We step careful over the thorny blackberry branches. I clench my teeth to keep from talking to the blackberries upon blackberries, mostly fresh and waiting to rot, the rest smashed"), a barrier to fully appreciating her story. Ages 14-up. Agent: Beth Phelan, Bent Agency (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-Fifteen-year-old Rain lives among the homeless in a tent with her father in Seattle, WA. While her father struggles with alcoholism and making money from bead jewelry, Rain is fiercely guarded by King, a homeless 17-year-old who is determined to shield her from dangerous people and places that he knows well. When "Public Notice of Demolition" signs appear overnight stating that trespassers must leave, Rain's community is distraught but resigned. One day before their eviction, King warily takes Rain into the city where she discovers iconic landmarks; King's hangouts; his drug-dealing nemesis, Cook; the unexpected kindness of strangers; and her own vulnerability. Although no clear solutions are offered, Rain's story portrays the visceral poverty, social isolation, and self-reliance within her homeless community. Her first-person narrative reveals a teenager who wants to know more about life, feels physical attraction to King, and is comforted by mystical beliefs in stars and wishes. Rain's spare spoken words belie her fluent narrative thoughts and evocative descriptions. Rain and King embody loyalty and hope, but their cryptic dialogue and interactions and tacit understandings fuel unanswered questions about plot action, relationships, events, and their future. VERDICT Despite obscure references and unresolved issues, Rain's compassionate narrative illuminates emotional, psychosocial, educational, and physical challenges impacting homeless people. A strong purchase for YA shelves.-Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Fans of Jandy Nelson and Anna-Marie McLemore's juxtapositions of the everyday with the fantastic will revel in Kolby's emotional, layered prose that has a distinctly poetic quality. Fifteen-year-old Rain lives with her father in the Jungle, a homeless community nestled in the mountains outside Seattle. Her father and the others who live in the Jungle call themselves the Winterfolk and have taught Rain that to be in the world means to be invisible. When the town hands out eviction notices to the Winterfolk, Rain and her mentor and guardian, King, venture into the confusing, harsh streets of Seattle. As Rain makes sense of society one that is right next-door and yet utterly foreign to her her naïveté allows her to see the world touched with magic and possibility instead of serving as an obstacle. Rain's haunting, endearing, unique voice will propel readers through this impressive first novel that highlights a too-often overlooked part of the population. Gorgeous, expressive magical realism from a promising debut author.--Kling, Caitlin Copyright 2017 Booklist