Monday, 21 August 2017

Book review : Rain Falls on Everyone - Clár Ní Chonghaile


Last year, I discovered author Clár Ní Chonghaile when I read her debut novel, Fractured - you can click through for my review of that book. It turned out to be an edgy, thought-provoking read set in Somalia, so I had no idea what would be hiding behind her latest enigmatic title, Rain Falls on Everyone.

I soon discovered that it is a tale of two cities, or more precisely two countries, both of which come together in the central character of Theo. He has picked up the Dublin accent and even learnt to speak Gaelic but just one look at his black skin marks him out as an outsider for the locals. He is, and always has been, struggling to create a new identity and put his past, escaping from the genocide in his native Rwanda, behind him.

The story begins with Theo fleeing from a scene where a man lies in a pool of blood - we don't know why or what has happened but the impression is given that it's not really his fault. There are obvious parallels with the apocalyptic scenes that he witnessed as a child - his nightmares reveal glimpses of his family being butchered without ever letting him see the complete picture. Theo's predicament is left unexplained and the story shifts back in time, showing how he came to be involved in the whole sorry tale.

As the reader follows the unfolding backstory, Theo is on his own voyage of self-discovery, as sights, sounds and smells appeal to his innermost memories, unexpectedly unlocking snatches of his past life and helping him to piece together his story (and history). For him to create a meaningful future for himself, he has to first come to terms with his past.

As with Fractured, the characters are complex and realistically multi-dimensional, with both good and bad sides to their personalities. Theo has had a horrific, tragic start to his life so it is easy to feel sorry for him, but you also want to condemn him for getting in with the wrong crowd and throwing away his new chance of happiness with petty drug-dealing. Even the villains of the tale have moments of poignancy and humanity, and you can understand, without ever condoning, the actions that they have felt forced to carry out due to the momentum of their lives.

There are only a few graphic scenes of violence described to portray the Rwandan massacre, but they are sufficient to give you an idea of the horrors that went on. It's a gritty, poignant tale, with characters that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page.

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (15 July 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1785079018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1785079016



Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

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