Prather’s Pick: A girl named Apple
October 27, 2015
This week's book is intended for young adult readers. It's "Apple and Rain," a novel written by Sarah Crossan and published by Bloomsbury Children's books (2014).
The novel is set in England where Apple, short for Apollinia Apostolopoulou, lives with her nana. Apple is 14 years old. Apple's mother (Mum), Nana's daughter, abandoned her 11 years ago on — of all times — Christmas Eve. Apple can remember that rainy night with lots of loud thunder; the green coat her mother wore; and the suitcase she carried, but she doesn't really know anything about the circumstances surrounding that night. Nana just says that Mum left her child to go to New York to be on Broadway.
Dad and his wife of three years live in London and haven't been to visit in six months. As the novel opens, Nana, Apple, and Nana's dog, Derry, are getting ready to go to Mass. It's Christmas Day, and Apple secretly wishes that Mum will show up. She doesn't, but Dad and Trish show up, and they have news — they're expecting a baby.
On Christmas Day, Apple meets Del, the new neighbor boy from next door. He slips through a crack in the fence and introduces himself. Del will play an important role in the book.
As far as Apple's friends go, her best friend is Pilar; her not-so-good friend is Donna. Nana is so overprotective of Apple that she waits for her after school, and Apple doesn't get to do anything with the other girls. So as the plot develops, Pilar spends more and more time with Donna, and with what shows up on Facebook and all… well, Apple is just miserable.
Besides that, Apple has a crush on Egan Winters, an upperclassman who is five years older than she is.
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After Christmas, there's a surprise when eighth-grade English takes up again. The teacher broke her leg while skiing so Mr. Gaydon takes her place. The students are ready to take up poetry, and nobody seems very excited about it — at first. However, after the students hear "Ode to Silence" being read and start to discuss "solitude," the room comes alive with discussion. Their assignment is to write prose or poetry — 100 words exactly — on solitude.
The assignments are similar each class following — reading a poem and writing on a topic. Apple enjoys the assignments and writes poetry at first but changes to prose right before handing the assignments in because she doesn't want to reveal too much about herself. (The poetry in this novel is really quite good, and it helps to tell the story.)
Well, Mum does show up again, and Apple goes to live with her. Mum has a surprise, however, because Apple has a 10-year-old sister named Rain, and this young girl has some problems. For one, she has a doll, Jenny, who she believes to be real. She takes care of the doll as if it is a real baby, going into hysterics if there isn't real milk for Jenny. Rain can't even go to school.
Mum hosts parties, inviting Egan and his friends, serving up alcohol, and encouraging Apple to wear grown-up clothes and make-up. The plan backfires when Egan becomes interested in Mum.
Then Mum starts taking off, finally for days, in search of acting jobs. She doesn't return when she says she will, leaving Apple in charge of Rain. Apple misses a lot of school. As the conflict builds, the reader can't help but be more and more resentful toward Mum who is incredibly irresponsible and immature. When will Apple go back to Nana?
This is a very good story with interesting, well-developed characters. You can find the book with new young adult books (designated by "J") at the Craig Moffat County Library. The hardcover book sells for $17.99.