In Alice J. Wisler’s debut novel, Rain Song, Nicole Michelin was born in Japan to missionary parents. Her mother died in a fire when Nicole was two. Her father brought her back to America, where she was cared for largely by her maternal grandmother in Mount Olive. NC. He was a broken man forever after, and would not answer any of her questions about her mother’s death or their time in Japan.
Now Nicole is in her early thirties and teaches high school English in Mount Olive. She has a slew of quirky Southern relatives and regularly makes pineapple chutney with her grandmother. She keeps saltwater fish in her aquarium and writes columns for a fish web site. And she battles anxiety and bites her fingernails. She has three resolves. She will never ride a motorcycle. She will never fly in an airplane. And she will never go back to Japan.
An email question about koi from her fish column leads to a correspondence with a man who seems nice. He even sends her a poem that she can’t get out of her mind.
There’s only one problem. He lives in Japan.
And then—he reveals that he knew her when she was a child in Japan.
I loved this book. I can’t believe I’ve had it in my Kindle app for years and just now got to it.
I loved the Southern flavor. I loved Nicole’s grandmother’s Southern Truths. I loved Nicole’s faith journey. And I loved Alice’s writing. Here are some samples:
I threw my head back and laughed like Uncle Jarvis. Swing your head back, open your mouth, and let laughter flow like a rushing waterfall in the North Carolina mountains. It sounds like sunshine in your ears.
We’d like to think we are brave, capable, and strong. But the minute we lose our luggage or are delayed, we’ve been known to break into pieces.
You are a gutless one, Nicole. You have never watered your gift of faith. It is so small; it’s still a seed in the ground.
I thought the author must have actually lived in Japan by the way she wrote about it. She did: she was also the child of missionary parents there.
This book is the first in her Heart of Carolina series. I don’t think the characters carry over from book to book: at least, it doesn’t seem like it from their descriptions. But it looks like they all take place in NC.
I found this book both funny and touching. Have you ever read any of Alice J. Wisler’s books?