Though it may seem important to remember everything from the past, there is a difference in remembering over accepting the past as fate people are doomed to repeat. In Rain Falls on Everyone, for one young man, Theo, a Rawandan who fled his country’s genocide as a boy, remembering the past has been wrought with post-traumatic stress. Now an adult in Ireland, he understands what it means to be different – neither part of Ireland nor Rwanda. Not until he crosses paths with a woman he works with, Deirdre, and they find a chilling connection through a dangerous drug gang may they unlock the blockages that keep them from moving forward. Though this book has a slow burn in the first act, the story heats up nicely to an emotional, thought-provoking conclusion.
Chonghaile wraps the audience in a blanket of both beautiful and haunting imagery. One moment you’re picturing Galway, the passersby, the beauty of a girl Theo sees in a coffee shop window – then the next moment you are sucked into images from the past – Theo’s bloodied family members, a machete raised high, a scream – all in the way we might personally experience PTSD spilling into our heads like water out of a leaky faucet. Chonghaile brings us back and forth from Theo to Deirdre’s perspective. At times that can be confusing, but once you get used to the way the story bleeds in and out, the experience becomes immersive. Seeing both Theo and Deirdre’s viewpoints not only provides deeper insight, but it also plays into the structure of two individuals from different backgrounds coming together to a mutual understanding, the understanding that all the main players in Rain Falls on Everyone may be suffering in their own way.
The theme of the past catching up with you and the definition of home becomes the centerpiece of this book. There is a distinct, confusing, heart-breaking guilt that Theo feels underneath his adoptive parents’ choice to leave Rwanda. When in the middle of things, it can be difficult to know what is right when a more pressing urge to survive surfaces. Survival becomes Theo’s newfound predicament in Rain Falls on Everyone with the drug gang. But what does it mean, despite everything, to finally find home? Is home the place you are raised or is it the feeling you find in a person or group of people that make you care? These are the questions that Rain Falls on Everyone asks.
I was halfway through the novel, and I was still receiving background information, which made me fear that the story may not come to a satisfying conclusion. I stuck with it, however, and all the pieces fell into place, satisfying me and enlightening me on Theo, the larger story, and all the mess that may influence everyone’s future.
Clar Ni Chonghaile, though born in London, was raised in Galway, Ireland and moved back to London after she turned 19 to become a journalist for Reuters. Though she didn’t spend her entire life in Ireland, I still consider her an Irish writer, especially regarding Rain Falls on Everyone which takes place almost entirely in Ireland, and its clear the landscape and the people of this island are a part of Clar’s identity. People are also not one thing. People are multi-faceted, hailing often from a variety of places like the book she wrote explores. Her work has been praised by other journalists and writers, and her writing style will likely interest you if you are a fan of recent history and if you appreciate detailed, immersive imagery.