I was a bit dubious about reading Cinnamon Rain. Mainly because it centres around a love triangle and I’m very tired of those. But thankfully, Cinnamon Rain has a few things going for it that make it very different from your standard YA love triangle fare:
- It’s a verse novel.
- There’s no insta-love. Far from it – these characters have known each other for years.
- It’s told from the perspectives of all three characters.
- These aren’t your average heroes and heroines. They screw up, act out, hurt themselves and each other – in other words, act like totally real human beings.
- Speaking of which - it’s not paranormal. Yay, contemporary!
- The focus is on their individual lives and journeys as much as (or perhaps more than) the love story. They’re all trying to find their way in the world and figure out who they are and what they want as they leave school and home for the first time.
In other words – don’t let the love triangle put you off. I’m glad it didn’t stop me. I’ve been wanting to read another verse novel since I read and loved Sarah Crossan’s The Weight of Water about a year ago, and I finally got to it with Cinnamon Rain. I have to say it didn’t touch me in quite the same way as The Weight of Water did, but of course it’s a completely different story with different characters and themes. I still enjoyed the verse form; it was sparse but said so much. There were more than a few elegant and beautiful passages I connected with. However, the verse did mean that, for me, the three character voices weren’t as distinct as they could have been otherwise. But it was still great to get inside all of their heads.
The story structure worked really effectively, with Luke’s version of events opening the book, followed by Casey revealing her side of things before Bongo closes out the tale with his harrowing experience.
I appreciated the fact that the main characters were ordinary teenagers, and that this didn’t mean the story was boring. Far from it – because STUFF happens in real life, and STUFF definitely happens in this book. I sympathised with all three characters for the most part, but I especially felt for Bongo. He’s the one who has gone through the most in his life, and the one who by outward appearances seems to be a bit of a deadbeat – when really he has a big heart that has the potential to break just as much as anyone else’s. Perhaps more so. My own heart broke a little for him.
I liked Luke’s story, although it didn't have the same emotional impact as Bongo’s. It was a good starting point for the trio’s tale, and set the foundation for the other characters that we got to know better in their own sections. I hate to say it, but Casey drove me a little nuts. I felt for her at times but didn’t really connect with her character as a whole. Even though a third of the book is told from her point of view, I still felt a bit distant from her character and didn’t understand many of her actions.
The way the three stories intertwined and came together at the end was beautifully done. I thought the ending was great; without being too abrupt, it avoided wrapping everything up in a neat, cheesy little bow. Because life doesn’t work that way - and Cinnamon Rain is achingly true to life.
Published: February 2012, Walker Books Australia
Get It: All Books 4 Less
Interestingly, the US edition of this book is called Out of This Place. It probably makes more sense than Cinnamon Rain (which frankly doesn't make a lot of sense at all) - although it's less "poetic".