A Drop of Rain


215 pages
ISBN 1-894917-10-3
DDC jC813'.6




Susannah D. Ketchum, a retired teacher-librarian, has served on the
Board of Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) since 1999 and on the
Ontario Library Association (OLA)’s Red Maple Selection Committee
since 2000.


Kirk interweaves excerpts from the diaries of five believable characters
to create this story. Naomi, aged 16, whose “greatest desire in life
… is to be comfortable with [her]self … [and] to meet [her]
father,” resents the feeling that she is in her mother’s way. Eva,
Naomi’s mother, holds a challenging position as a teacher in the
engineering department of a nearby college and is also trying to look
after her half-sister, Hanna, who is dying of cancer. Joe, Eva’s
“manfriend,” is divorced but supports his two sons and his ex-wife
by working at a job he hates. Mary, a doctor in Poland, emigrated to
Canada eight years earlier. She is now a cleaner at the Mapleville
Recreational Complex and supervises Naomi after she obtains part-time
work there. Curtis, whose gay father has recently come out, struggles
with an abusive stepfather.

Kirk manages to give each diarist an individual voice, and the
resulting patchwork narrative is, eventually, very effective. However,
teens may be turned off by the initial effort required. As well, Joe’s
entries are unlikely to resonate with young-adult readers (he describes
“noctilucent cloud pictures” and “lenticular clouds” and writes
that he “lusted after gorgeous alto cumulus clouds this morning while
walking to work”).

Kirk’s first novel, Warsaw Spring (2001), told the story of Eva’s
1979 visit to Poland in an attempt to find her father and her Polish
roots. Kirk herself “worked in Poland between 1977 and 1979,” and
her familiarity with the country informs and enriches both novels. Her
plotting and writing style have improved significantly since her first
novel. Though A Drop of Rain can stand alone, the two books together
tell a much more powerful story. Not a first-choice purchase.


Kirk, Heather., “A Drop of Rain,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/22648.