Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Rainlight” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  200 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
The moving story of a father who dies young and the family he leaves behind

Even in a small town people have secrets, including how much they really mean to each other. In Alison McGhee’s haunting debut, a tragic event sparks revelations from nine-year-old Mallie, her mother, her grandfather, a waitress, and Mallie’s father’s ex-lover. They discover long-hidden truths and f
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 3rd 2001 by Picador (first published 1998)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Rainlight, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Rainlight

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 354)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 30, 2012 Jess rated it really liked it
This was the fifth book I read for my Introduction to College Literature class and so far the most contemporary. This is a great book to read for class because it was full of symbolism and imagery, and it really makes the reader respond.

The novel is told from the point of view of four characters but primarily revolves around Mallie, a nine-year-old girl whose father Starr has recently died in an accident, leaving her searching for answers in all the wrong places. We watch these characters (whic
Jul 11, 2012 Mindy rated it really liked it
"They're born and your life expands, it bulges with their presence for the rest of your days. They change you in every way you can think of, they push mountains up on the horizon and make canyons and valleys in the terrain of your life. But what you don't realize until later, what is unimaginably difficult to see, is that you cannot will your children's fates."

This is a serious read that centers around the death of a father and the effects it has on those closest to him. Each chapter is told by
Dec 14, 2007 Britta rated it really liked it
"You think there's time. I always thought there was. I thought that someday I would talk, tell [her] the things I wanted to tell her, the bits of shape and color and sound that were what came to me when I thought of her. At night when she was asleep I smelled he hair. There was a smell of leaves and nutmeg that came from her when she was asleep. I could ahve told her that. I thought I would someday, but then she was gone."

"There are things you were going to say but you didn't. There's the rest o
Jul 16, 2011 Lois rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book slowly to “get it”, but that’s not a bad thing.

When I first started it, I was a little distracted, and after reading about the first 8 or 10 pages, I really didn’t know what had happened, but I was curious.

So I started over, when I could totally focus (as I should have been doing the first time anyway), and what developed was a lovely telling of a mostly sad story. All of the characters have secrets, or guilt, or regret, and each chapter is told by one of them, and lets y
Aug 08, 2014 Rosie rated it really liked it
Very good!
Jan 29, 2014 Nicole rated it really liked it
Loved this beautiful book! This is my second book by Ms. McGhee and I see a pattern of fascinating themes and settings evolving. I look forward to reading more. The flow of her books are just amazing too. They feel soft and sleepy but engaging at the same time.
Cathy Aquila
Jun 27, 2010 Cathy Aquila rated it liked it
The character development was weak. I had a hard time keeping track of who was who. I also thought the author didn't have a grasp on the abilities of a 9 year old and 3 year old. Chinese is a hard language to grasp and I had a hard time believing that a 9 year old could become conversant in a few months. Otherwise, the story was a nice one.
Chris Leuchtenburg
Jun 18, 2012 Chris Leuchtenburg rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
Short, searing story of tragically unfulfilled desire and wrong turns in life. Read for Contemporary Book Group. Some members of the group found the plot had too many coincidences and too much tragedy, and one person thought the ideas were new agey (what a put down!) I found the book to be moving and thought provoking, but maybe I’m a rube.
Nikee Huntington
Nov 26, 2012 Nikee Huntington rated it really liked it

I was surprised to enjoy this book, as I couldn't even finish reading McGhee's book, "Shadow Baby". I was originally put off by the book containing the same bus driver, towns & landmarks from the other book, but the books are not at all related - just take place in the same parts of NY. this story was well written and the touching.
Jul 29, 2007 Michael rated it it was amazing
There are a couple of wobbly steps in the beginning of this dreamy, close-focus novel, but it nonetheless made me weep like a baby at the climactic moment. The saddest of Alison McGhee's adult novels, all of which work the melancholy side of the tracks.
Dec 24, 2012 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, disaster
Very, very sad. But rewarding and beautifully written.

Recommended by Kristin to me back in 2004. Geez, we've known each other online for a LONG TIME now. ;)
Abigail (Abbe)
Sep 07, 2009 Abigail (Abbe) rated it did not like it
Shelves: minnesota, abandoned
I am sad to say I could not read a MN book. but i could not get past page one... i just couldn't follow it. and life is too short to waste time on an ok book. forgive me ms. mcghee.
Sep 29, 2010 Swanbender2001 rated it it was amazing
I found this story to be about loving and accepting and opening ourselves up after a heartbreaking grief and I highly recommend this author.
Aug 05, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
Shelves: my-favs
What an amazing read!! Rainlight is honest, and relevant to most anyone - an emotional experience well worth taking.
Sep 26, 2008 Amber rated it it was ok
Gracious, this was the most depressing book I've read in a long time. Don't read it unless you want a real downer.
Jan 08, 2008 Heather rated it liked it
Middle of the pack of this years' reads.... not that memorable for me on either spectrum.
Mar 06, 2010 Stacy rated it liked it
2.75 out of 5.
For best results see for review.
Dec 27, 2008 Ann rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book--heartbreaking and hopeful.
Lee Anne
Dec 21, 2009 Lee Anne rated it really liked it
A thoughtful and rather sad story, but not a sad ending.
Oct 01, 2009 Denidevine rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful sad novel.
Aug 24, 2009 DJ rated it liked it
Good not great. Somewhat predictable.
Dec 08, 2009 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-it
A sad and wonderful book.
Debbie Mckeever
Debbie Mckeever marked it as to-read
Jul 11, 2016
Dana rated it liked it
Jul 19, 2016
Lori rated it really liked it
Jun 10, 2016
Tiphini marked it as to-read
May 26, 2016
Erin rated it really liked it
May 22, 2016
Karen added it
May 08, 2016
Lisa marked it as to-read
Apr 26, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Kissing Tennessee: and Other Stories from the Stardust Dance
  • Hidden
  • Original Bliss
  • Hank & Chloe
  • The Odd Sea
  • Things Left Unsaid: A Novel in Poems
  • The Box Children
  • Things Unspoken
  • Burger Wuss
  • Where No Gods Came
  • The Ultimatum (Steadfast #2)
  • Cold Rock River
  • These Granite Islands
  • Sleep Toward Heaven
  • A Good Man
  • Beach Week: A Novel
  • King Javan's Year (The Heirs of Saint Camber, #2 )
  • The Long Wait for Tomorrow
Alison McGhee is the award-winning author of picture books, poems, and novels for all ages, including the young adult novel ALL RIVERS FLOW TO THE SEA and the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestseller SOMEDAY, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Alison McGhee lives in Minnesota.
More about Alison McGhee...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »