Things To Do When It’s Raining, by Marissa Stapley (2018)

Fiction
Adult
Things to Do When It's Raining, by Marissa StapleySomeone once said the only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead. But a secret held by one person can still burst out if that person is developing dementia. Thus we learn Lilly’s secret early on, and unfortunately for her, so does her husband George. He moves out, despite 60 years of marriage, into a local hotel. There he runs into Jonah, the alcoholic father, now sober and dying, of Gabriel, the boy George and Lilly took in 20 years ago. They were already raising their granddaughter Mae, whose parents died in a tragic accident when Mae was six. The two children are bestest pals, a friendship that germinates into young love, until one day Gabriel leaves abruptly, breaking Mae’s heart. But Lilly holds another secret about Gabe’s departure. When Mae’s New York City life comes crashing down around her, she flees to her grandparents’ home, once an inn for holidayers on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, and slowly the secrets are revealed, as Gabriel also returns to his dying father’s side. Love, loss, sacrifice, family, and forgiveness are the big themes in this novel by Canadian Stapley. (I remain mystified as to why it is set in the States, by the way. There is a Montreal connection, but why not put the whole damn story in Canada?) I really liked our young protagonists but kept expecting more secrets to emerge, in reality it is Mae who is mostly in the dark. Stapley was inspired by her own family’s reluctance to talk about her grandmother’s first husband; not a secret but somehow shameful. In this fictionalized interpretation, she weaves a story that rings true, with characters who make mistakes and hide their hurts and shames, impacting others in ways they did not always intend. Is it too late for Gabe and Mae or is forgiveness possible? Other than the unnecessary epilogue, this is a moving and emotional story – an excellent choice for a summer vacation. The title is based on Mae’s mother’s list for guests. Each chapter starts with an entry from the list, giving the reader a clue about what will happen. My thanks to publisher Simon and Schuster Canada for the advance reading copy provided through #NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33305555.
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