The year is 1934. With the country in the stranglehold of drought and economic depression, Ella Barron runs her Texas boardinghouse with an efficiency that ensures her life will be kept in balance. She also cares for her ten-year-old son, Solly, a sweet but challenging child whose misunderstood behavior finds Ella on the receiving end of pity, derision, and suspicion. David Rainwater arrives at the house looking for lodging but Ella senses that admitting him will bring about unsettling changes. However, times are hard, so Mr. Rainwater moves in and impacts her life in ways Ella could never have foreseen.
The changes are echoed by the turbulence beyond the house walls. Friends and neighbors now face financial ruin and in an effort to save their families from homelessness and hunger, are forced to make heart-rending choices. The climate of desperation creates a fertile atmosphere for racial tensions and social unrest. Conrad Ellis—privileged and spoiled and Ella’s nemesis since childhood—steps into this arena of teeming hostility to exact his vengeance and demonstrate the extent of his blind hatred and unlimited cruelty. He and his gang of hoodlums come to embody the rule of law, and no one in Gilead, Texas, is safe. Particularly Ella and Solly.
In this hotbed of uncertainty, Ella finds Mr. Rainwater a calming presence. Slowly, she begins to rely on his soft-spokenness, his restraint, and the steely resolve of his convictions. And on the hottest, most violent night of the summer, those principles will be put to the ultimate test.
Sandra Brown: Reflections of Rainwater
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Reading Group Guide
Ella Barron runs her Texas boardinghouse with an efficiency that ensures her life will be kept in perfect balance. When a new boarder moves in—the soft-spoken, insightful Mr. Rainwater—that careful balance is upset in ways that Ella could never have predicted. Faced with the challenges of rearing her autistic son alone and surviving the hardships imposed by economic crisis, the last thing Ella needs is an additional burden. But from Mr. Rainwater she learns a bittersweet truth—that love is worth whatever price one must pay for it.
1. What qualities does Ella Brown possess? What is her greatest strength? What is her greatest weakness? Which qualities are inherent and which do you attribute to her situation in life?
2. Rainwater is set in Depression-era Texas. What details does Brown use to create atmosphere? How does the setting affect the action of the story?
3. It’s clear from the beginning that Ella wants to prevent Solly’s odd behavior from see more