Rain Falling on Embers

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In Rain Falling on Embers by Liana Gardner, thirteen-year-old Katie McCabe’s life is turned upside down. Born into a family of do-gooders, she seems to be just the opposite. She only has her sheriff father to look after her, and when he becomes gravely ill and she keeps getting into trouble, he can’t keep up. Preferring to keep Katie from seeing him grow weaker, he sends her to live with an uncle and three cousins whom she has never even met. To make things worse, Katie becomes a target for one of the meanest kids around—the son of the man who owns most of the city. Faced with a new, unwanted home and sudden grief, Katie has to figure out how to keep going and fit into a place where she never thought she’d have to be.

What might seem like a typical troubled teen story actually turns into something pretty unique and unexpected. Though there are inevitable similarities (trouble at home, disregarding authority, cute boys, etc.), it is clear that author Liana Gardner has tried her best not to let similar young adult stories influence her own creativity in writing. Katie does more than struggle with living with strangers in a new place; she has some adventures of her own, too. Katie’s character is very well developed, and Liana Gardner has done a good job of creating a critical backstory. The story also has a great climax, and readers won’t see it coming.

A lot of teenagers go through similar situations and have similar thoughts and feelings to Katie’s, but there are a few things that dampen the realistic fire that Liana Gardner has created. For example, at one point, a character meets an onslaught of wild animals in the woods in a very short timeframe and has unlikely interactions with each of them. Things like this make Katie and her story lose just a little of its relatable appeal.

Another great aspect that Liana Gardner has included to keep readers wanting more is leaving some great questions unanswered, especially concerning uncertain relationships and what exactly the history is between the McCabe family and the malicious family that owns most of the town. It looks like these questions will be answered in future novels.

Rain Falling on Embers is a teen’s story of grief, new beginnings, and an affirmation that sometimes chaos, terrible and unexpected as it is, is normal. It is a novel that many teens are sure to find interesting and impactful.

Reviewed By:

Author Liana Gardner
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 250 pages
Publisher Vesuvian Books
Publish Date 03-Oct-2023
ISBN 9781645480891 Buy this Book
Issue September 2023
Category Tweens


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