Title: The Value of Rain
Author: Brandon Shire
Pages: Paperback; 214
Release Date: November 30, 2011
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Sexual Situations, Harsh Language
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who are comfortable with sexual situations and graphic language.
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Charles is 14, and after being discovered with his first love he is forced into a mental hospital to cure his sexuality. For the next ten years he endures mental and physical torture as part of that treatment and when he is finally free, he begins a relentless quest for vengeance against the woman who abetted his commitment into that hospital, his mother Charlotte.
The Value of Rain chronicles Charles’ journey from hate to the unexpected beginning of redemption, and reveals the destructive nature of families, secrets and revenge.
Charles Benedict is one of the most beautifully flawed characters I've had the pleasure of meeting in a long time. I'm not ashamed to say that he really is what makes this story. Torn from the arms of his first love, and viciously thrust into an asylum for "people like him", Charles' story is a tough one. Brandon Shire paints a picture of a boy who feels unloved, unaccepted, but most of all vengeful. His only motivation throughout the entire story is to get back at the one woman who caused him all the pain, Charlotte, his mother. Being in Charles' head isn't easy. It isn't pretty. However it is engrossing.
What I really enjoyed about this book was how gorgeously it deals with the ideas of family life and accepting yourself. Yes, Charles is gay. Yes, this book does have sexual scenes between two men. Which, if I may add, are really tastefully done. However this story is about so much more than just being a gay adolescent. Charles comes from a deeply broken family that is buried in secrets. His reality is one that is hard to face, but is truth for a lot of people out there. I was moved by how raw and honest Charles' character was in this book. Offered many a hand to hold on his road to freedom from his past, he still keeps pushing forward doggedly until the end. He proves that sometimes motivation is everything, even if it might not be the healthiest kind of motivation.
It's tough to aptly express all the emotions that are warring within me after finishing The Value of Rain. At the forefront is a deep love for Charles and his story. No matter how broken he was, or how frustrated I was with his inability to give in to love or make choices that were good for himself, I still adored him. Beneath that is a slight annoyance at how completely destroyed his family was. I am still questioning if it was really all necessary. Just my opinion I know, but Charles isn't the only member of his family who has issues. They all do. Every single one. The family that is depicted in this story is so broken, so dysfunctional, that I almost couldn't bear to read about them.
I'm going to fully admit that, after reading the first page of this book, I almost didn't continue. The raw anger and harsh language that pepper the first chapter almost turned me off. I'm glad I didn't act on instinct though, because The Value of Rain ended up being something that I needed to read. Charles' story is one that broke my heart and then put the pieces back together in a whole new configuration. This isn't a book that is an easy read. It isn't a happy story. What it is though is a deep look into the life of a character who is so used to pain that he isn't sure he is ready to accept happiness yet. It's a tough read, but one I am glad I finished.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.