The Rain Ascends


217 pages
ISBN 0-394-28121-7
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is an associate editor of the Canadian Book Review


This powerfully and hypnotically lyrical novel by the author of the
internationally acclaimed novel Obasan is narrated by Millicent, a
middle-aged woman who is forced to confront a truth she has spent a
lifetime denying: that her father, a now-retired Anglican minister
beloved for his good works in the community and abroad, used his
position of authority within the Church to sexually abuse young boys.
Millicent struggles to reconcile the saint with the sinner (“As
Hitler’s cat, am I not entitled to say that Hitler was human too, that
he had some moments of kindness?”), but it is not until the full
extent of the minister’s crimes is revealed that she is able to
relinquish her role as advocate and enabler. The depth of Millicent’s
emotional investment in her father is such that the reader is left
continually questioning her assessments of him. By the end of the novel,
it is heartbreakingly apparent that she has squandered her devotion not
on a flawed saint but on a self-absorbed, remorseless monster. Joy
Kogawa has fashioned a brilliant and morally complex tale of guilt and
responsibility, mercy and justice, and the insidious attractions of
“blessed denial.”


Kogawa, Joy., “The Rain Ascends,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 17, 2024,