Critical Context

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Loss and the healing process are the main topics in many of Norma Fox Mazer’s books. In Out of Control (1993), the protagonist must deal with the loss of innocence when her view of the world through rose-colored glasses is shattered by a sexual harassment incident. In this story, forgiveness is the instrument that allows healing to occur. Loss of security is the subject in Downtown (1984) and the near loss of virginity is portrayed in Up in Seth’s Room (1979). Newly discovered love is the vehicle that Rachel uses to deal with and heal from the loss of her grandfather in After the Rain. All of Mazer’s books address natural coming-of-age experiences that teenagers undergo. A budding romance is used as a subtheme in After the Rain to soften the impact of death. The ending allows the reader to realize that loss is part of life.

This theme can be seen in other young adult titles. Cynthia Rylant’s Missing May (1992) uses flashbacks to relate how the protagonist deals with the death of her aunt. Similarly, fond memories are used to describe a child’s grief for her deceased mother in Walk Two Moons (1994). Jan Hudson’s Sweetgrass (1991) looks at death through what might have been had a young person not died. Unlike these titles, After the Rain does not use the past to portray the grief caused by death, instead using present relationships subtly to relay the sorrow felt when death occurs. After the Rain stresses the importance of putting things right while there is still time.