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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Rain May Pass is a nonfiction gay, coming of age memoir written by Alan Shayne. They had always gone to Cape Cod for the summer. It was something Alan remembered as an integral part of his life growing up. The small house in the back of his aunt and uncle’s property was such an amazing escape from the hot summers of Brookline, where their apartment had views of the city’s truck traffic and three gas stations. When he was 15, however, things were different. His aunt and uncle were dead, and the little caretaker’s cottage had been torn down. Alan’s mom and dad were spending the summer in Brookline, but they were sending him to the Cape to help his grandmother in her shop for three months. Alan was aghast at the idea. His grandmother was cold and harsh, and the concept of long hours spent with her seemed untenable. His protests fell on deaf ears. While his mom was sympathetic, as she had her own history with the irritable and irritating Mrs. Schein, his dad was adamant. His mother needed the help, and Alan would benefit from the cooler Cape Cod weather. The boarding house where his grandmother roomed was old, in a bad part of town, and depressing. The B&B where they ate was filled with middle-aged and older couples. Was this what his summer would be like? Alan wondered if he would finally find some kids his age to hang out and go to the beach with. But this summer would prove to be far different than Alan could have believed. There was magic in the air that summer in Cape Cod, and it was waiting for him.
Every so often, I run across a memoir that is so real and compelling that I start to wonder if I had really begun a fictional tale, thinking a memoir couldn’t possibly flow so effortlessly and catch me up so entirely in its spell. Alan Shayne’s coming of age memoir, The Rain May Pass, is one of those books. Shayne weaves a spell about his reader, enticing them to share in his memories, making them willing witnesses to the craziness of his family’s squabbles, the dreary workaday world of his grandmother’s shop, and the mystery of love as it rushes at him, tumbling him about and changing him forever. I seemed to know each character in this memoir rather intimately as though I had been there at the time along with them. And I was entirely wrapped up in every phase of the author’s tale, from that momentous meeting on the beach to his oral interpretation at the speaking competition to his triumphs on the stage against all odds. What a marvelous tale and what an eloquent guide shares it with the reader. Anyone who dismisses nonfiction in favor of fiction will miss out on a gamechanger with this work. Shayne’s memoir is that good and I’m hoping he’s still writing as his voice is one I’d love to hear again. The Rain May Pass is the best memoir I’ve read this year. It’s most highly recommended.