Of the 25 books I recently read for the 2006 Christy Awards, Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin stood out from the rest for me. This southern coming home novel is filled with compelling characters, bittersweet moments, and a lesson for all of us.
At the age of six, Tucker Mason’s secluded life at Waverly Hall becomes a little more bearable. His father, Rex Mason, arrives one night with a boy in tow and offers eight words of introduction. “This is Matthew . . . Mason. Apparently, he’s my son.” The two boys are left in the care of Miss Ella Rain, a local woman hired by Rex to keep them out of sight.
As adults, Tucker and Mutt (Matthew) now struggle with the memories of a childhood at the hands of a father who didn’t want them and memories of “Mama” Ella’s death.
Tucker returns home from a photo shoot late at night to find a woman and child stranded on the side of the road. He offers them shelter for the night and puts them up in Miss Ella’s house, only to discover the woman is Katie, a childhood friend now running from an abusive husband.
When Mutt escapes from the mental hospital, Tucker is faced with the decision to place Mutt in a more secure facility. Against medical advice, Tucker chooses instead to take Mutt back to Waverly Hall.
Can their former childhood home help ease the voices in Mutt’s head, and can Miss Ella’s soft promptings help Tucker reconcile his past and place a hope for a future in his heart?
Wrapped in Rain had me laughing out loud one minute, and crying the next. Charles Martin has a gift for bringing his characters to life and placing them firmly in the reader’s heart. My heart broke many times for Mutt. His antics were both funny and poignant, and helped me understand the mind of someone battling a mental illness. From Miss Ella, I learned that strength resides in the meek. This woman of faith was strong under adversity, and her legacy to the boys was one of soft spoken words to guide them and endless hours on her knees in prayer. And then there was little Jase, the son of Tucker’s old girlfriend, Katie. His sweet innocence was both refreshing and heartwarming.