Review of ‘When Rain Turns to Snow’

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Title: ‘When Rain Turns to Snow’
Author: Jane Godwin
Publisher: Lothian, an imprint of Hachette Australia
Age Range: 12+, middle grade, upper primary, lower secondary.
Themes: family, adoption, divorce, step parents, parents, siblings, family secrets, coming of age, identity, school, friendships, social media, social media safety, online trolling.

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I don’t believe family is only about genetics. I found a new word in the dictionary. Framily. It’s a portmanteau word, like blog, and brunch, and labradoodle. A blend of friend and family.

Jane Godwin ‘When Rain Turns to Snow’

Jane Godwin is one of my favourite Australian children’s authors. She writes with authenticity and absolute heart and I often let out a contented sigh (and even hug her books!) when I finish a first reading of them.

More widely, Jane Godwin is the highly acclaimed author of over twenty-five books for children, across all styles and ages. Her work is published internationally and highly awarded. For many years, Jane worked as a publisher and her work in the kidlit space in Australia is appreciated and respected.

Her latest middle grade novel is ‘When Rain Turns to Snow’ and is suitable for readers from 12+ but always check content suitability for your reader. For those who adored ‘As Happy As Here’ (full review here), ‘When Rain Turns to Snow’ is of a similar ilk and every bit as engaging for middle grade readers – in fact, the two novels together would make the perfect gift for a tween reader and the covers are gorgeous so it’s an aesthetic win as well!

13 year old Lissa is home on her own after school one afternoon when a boy around her own age turns up on the doorstep carrying a baby. Reed Lister is on the run – surely people are looking for him? He’s trying to find out who he really is and thinks Lissa’s mum might have some answers. But how could he be connected to Lissa’s family – and why has he been left in charge of a baby? A baby who is sick, and getting sicker…

Reed’s appearance stirs up untold histories in Lissa’s family, and suddenly she is having to make sense of her past in a way she would never have imagined. Meanwhile, her brother is dealing with a devastating secret of his own.

With a compelling storyline, ‘When Rain Turns to Snow’ will engage reluctant readers but, as with all Godwin’s writing, there is a level of sophistication which can take one’s breath away and she has deftly woven enough literary devices throughout to warm the hearts of English teachers and young literary buffs.

Clearly channelling her inner 13 year old self, Jane Godwin has created a cast of teen characters who are complex, flawed and wonderful and it feels quite an honour to be given a window into a fraught period of growth in their lives. It is no small task for an adult author to delve into the mind of teens and write their life authentically, but Godwin is clearly an astute observer of this age group and interested in exploring this time that is the very tipping point between childhood and adulthood.

Godwin surrounds her young cast with great adults who guide but don’t dominate the storyline or decisions of the characters and the exploration of what constitutes family is sure to open up discussion at home or in the classroom context. Likewise, discussion around online behaviour will abound!

‘Mum, people your age don’t get it, that’s not the way the world works.’…’Kids get destroyed on social media all the time.’

Jane Godwin ‘When Rain Turns to Snow’

‘When Rain Turns to Snow’

Print & eBook available

Buy from Apple Books


Highly recommended reading for the home or classroom context, ‘When Rain Turns to Snow’ is set to find a wide fan base. Whether it is her picture books or middle grade, the writing of Jane Godwin is just always pitch perfect…and I love what her character Lissa says about her own writing (just quietly Lissa? I rather like the students who don’t follow the Naplan formula!).

I’m a good writer, but I don’t get great marks because I don’t follow the formula like in Naplan. And I read books about words that are meant for adults, but I can never think of the right words to say when I’m speaking.

Jane Godwin ‘When Rain Turns to Snow’

A Selection of Other Jane Godwin Titles:

‘As Happy As Here’

Buy from Apple Books

My full review is here.

‘Falling From Grace’

Buy from Apple Books

‘Where’s Sunday’

‘Ivanhoe Swift Left Home at Six’

Buy from Apple Books

‘The Silver Sea’

‘Tilly’

‘Today We Have No Plans’

‘All Through the Year’

‘Go Go and the Silver Shoes’

My full review is here.

‘Starting School’

Buy from Apple Books

My full review is here.

‘Birthday Baby’

Buy from Apple Books

‘Hattie Helps Out’

Buy from Apple Books


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