Rain Falling on Embers

Children - Coming of Age
252 Pages
Reviewed on 12/11/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Rain Falling on Embers is filled with emotion, drama, suspense, and adventure. It is intended for middle-grade readers and contains some potentially distressing themes, such as death and abduction. Penned by Liana Gardner, this thrilling and highly intense work allows young readers to experience a contemporary drama with real-world issues through the eyes of young Katie, who was thirteen when her life was turned totally upside down. Grieving for her father and feeling alone in a town where she knew nobody, things took an even worse turn when Katie was abducted and left to fend for herself in the hills as a violent storm approached.

Liana Gardner has achieved something truly unique in this children’s novel, developing a realistic, heartfelt, and serious drama the likes of which I’ve never seen in middle-grade fiction before. This is exactly the sort of sophisticated read I’d have been looking for as a pre-teen, exploring the world of contemporary drama through Katie’s eyes and learning to cope with loss and trauma. Kids who have gone through anything similar to Katie’s experience are sure to find that this work speaks to their souls, and those who haven’t will doubtless learn a great deal of empathy and maturity from the sensitive portrayal of emotions that Gardner conveys from cover to cover. I would not hesitate to recommend Rain Falling on Embers for all young readers, but perhaps especially as a classroom or youth club read that is sure to inspire many deep conversations.

Emma Megan

Rain Falling on Embers by Liana Gardner is an outstanding novel about a rebel girl pressured to live up to her family name. At only thirteen years old, Katherine Elizabeth McCabe is a notorious troublemaker. Because her father is the town's sheriff, she always gets caught when she gets up to mischief. After she and her best friend Tommy accidentally set fire to a place, she anxiously waits for her punishment. Unfortunately for Katie, from now on she will have to live on a farm with her uncle and her three cousins. Even though she hopes that this new arrangement will be temporary, she is about to go through a lot of other tough changes in a very short time. Will Katie ever be able to uphold the McCabe reputation and return home?

Rain Falling on Embers by Liana Gardner is both amazing and heartbreaking. It is about loss, survival, getting caught in a revenge cycle, making friends and enemies, and upholding impossible standards. Gardner has captured the need that many youngsters feel, to be listened to and understood, perfectly. This powerful novel shows that a child can endure loneliness, change, and loss, but should never be bossed around by anyone. I loved the heroine of this moving story. Katie's beautiful yet difficult personality is portrayed with authenticity and integrity. One of my favorite parts about this book is that it focused on surviving change just as much as standing up for yourself and your truth. Kids who have a reputation for being rebels will resonate with this story.

Stephanie Chapman

Rain Falling on Embers by Liana Gardner is the first book in the Katie McCabe series. The story opens with Katie and her best friend, Tommy, hiding in a shed. She was playing with matches when they accidentally set the building on fire. Katie’s father, Sheriff Ron McCabe, tells her he is sending her to live with her Uncle Charlie. While in town, Sarah tells Katie that Denton is taking her on tour. Katie finishes the afternoon by punching Denton and making friends with Logan. Denton lies to Sarah about his injury, blaming it on Logan. Katie admits the truth over dinner when she finds out that her cousin Mark dislikes Denton. Finally, Katie calls her father, who tells her he has terminal cancer. Will Katie be able to handle the news or will she fall into a downward spiral of despair?

Katie’s emotional turmoil is evident. I watched her go from fear of punishment to an obstinate teenager. Sarah's defiant attitude toward her uncle and cousin tried their patience. Exceptional detail is given to describe the supporting characters. I could relate to Katie’s reactions when she met people from the small town. I would have acted the same way Katie did when she met Emma. The transitions from each day to the next were easy to follow. The shift in Katie’s attitude changes steadily. The story took several unpredictable turns that brought out Katie’s tenacity. Rain Falling on Embers by Liana Gardner is an easy-to-read story. Those who like defiant, strong female characters will enjoy watching Katie’s antics.