by Cici Foster
Reviewed by: Michelle Bishop
Sunny Rain by Cici Foster introduces us to three girls in the winter of 1989, Natalie Ellis, Leslie Morgan, and Monica Davis. Foster gives us glimpses into the childhood of each of them. Natalie, the daughter of a non-functioning alcoholic mother, is removed from the home by social services to be placed with her grandparents but that situation is not what it seems. Leslie’s family has to move into her prostitute aunt’s cramped apartment in the middle of the night because the parents can’t pay the rent. And, Monica is the poor little rich girl who suffers an accident that scars her physically and psychologically.
A quick jump to the fall of 2006 brings us into the present-day lives of these very different ladies who all work for social services. Leslie, self-proclaimed lifelong bachelorette, juggles men with the skill of an original player from the seventies. Natalie has the perfect husband, home, and son but is still feeling dissatisfied, and Monica is struggling to get her husband back after he left her for another woman. Needless to say, for these women nothing goes quite as they expect.
Foster tells the story with each woman having alternating chapters. The format is interesting but lends a disjointed feeling to the overall story. Moving from 1989 to 2006 without a real transition and with no significant background information about how the women met, other challenges they’ve faced, and/or how they overcame their childhood traumas leaves us with no concept of how they became the women they are in 2006.
Unlike so many novels that wrap up in a Kumbaya fest, Foster attempts to give the reader the sense of muted joy we experience in real life. There are losses. We’re confused by them. We suffer behind them. We learn and grow from them. And, with luck we love forward from them. The end of each woman’s story in Sunny Rain conveys this well leaving the reader a little sad, kind of confused, but overall hopeful about life.
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