Rain Clouds and Waterfalls Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The stories follow the life trajectory of a young girl, Ellen, depicting isolated incidences as she goes from child to adult which, en toto, gives you the fuller picture of her life, especially as it is interwoven with the music of The Beatles. Each chapter is headed by a Beatles song. Sometimes the music is a catalyst for her actions, sometimes a balm, but always linked to the story within, allowing the reader to witness Ellen grow up with and through the music. The stories are bare bones, not a lot of fluff here and no extraneous subject matter. Often the language belies the gravity of that same subject matter which can be stark, harsh, sometimes unbearable. A brother who leaves, a friend who leaves, a boyfriend who leaves, a boss who comes through (finally!), parents who are perennially remote and self-absorbed, all leave you asking where is Ellen’s “good” in life, really, other than through the music of the Beatles?
The stories are told almost matter-of-factly without pity or pulling of heart-strings even though some very adult things happen to Ellen as a child. Set in New Orleans, I wished for more of a sense of place, at least from the adult Ellen. I also wanted the adult Ellen to try a little harder to create her own reality rather than letting things wash over here as she’d done as a child. I understand that not everyone can or will evolve in this way, but I was rooting for her. In fact, the majority of the world is so slow to change that sometimes it seems the only dynamic action occurring is that which is dramatized in film and literature. Ultimately, I think it would have better served the story to see more of that character arc as well as the arc of the language Ellen used as she matured. Overall, however, the stories are balanced and steadily told. The book would make a great art house film — soundtrack essential — with the protagonist growing year to year along with her love of the Beatles. For a quick, enjoyable read try Rainclouds and Waterfalls.
It’s made clear at the beginning of the book just why Beatles’ songs have taken on such an emotional significance for Ellen, the narrator: she associates their records with the brother she lost track of as an 11 year old girl, whose absence she struggles to come to terms with as she grows up. And so the songs are a kind of touchstone for her as she moves through adolescence, into young womanhood. There are some great observations of all the small and major crises that people go through as they move out of childhood and join the adult world. And all the while the Beatles’ music is a way of making the world a better place: “I looked at the record player, hoping the music machine would swallow me up in that nowhere land they sang of.”
There’s also some humour in the stories, which is only fitting for a book in which the presence of John Lennon looms so large. So, when “Kevin Hawkins strolled down the aisle between the freshmen and sophomore section of tables with the relaxed posture of John Lennon crossing Abbey Road,” I’m sure any Beatles fan will give a knowing smile of recognition.
Whether or not you’re a Beatles fan, reading Ellen’s stories will give you some heart-warming moments and some heartache. She’s a character I really came to care about.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I want more! Having grown up about the same time as Ellen, I loved every word!Read more
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