REVIEW: Nothing but the Rain by Naomi Salman

Last Updated on February 12, 2024

Rain washes away memories in Naomi Salman’s apocalyptic debut novella, Nothing but the Rain. The novella is set in the stormy town of Aloisville, an isolated village with fewer than two hundred inhabitants whose memories are rinsed away with every raindrop.

Nothing But The RainThe story is told as a series of journal entries by sixty-three-year-old Laverne, a retired doctor who keeps a diary as a “backup brain.” Suspecting chemical contamination of the water, Laverne conducts experiments in puddles and her bathtub to test the effects on her own memory.

Aloisville is also under a suspicious military quarantine. It is unclear whether the quarantine is meant for the safety of the Aloisville residents or to prevent them from spreading news of their dire situation.

Laverne experiences few human interactions in Nothing but the Rain and struggles to remember people’s names. Her main interactions are with a distrusting neighbor, Katie, and her young daughter, Zoe.

Although written as a dystopian sci-fi story about environmental disaster, Nothing but the Rain also serves as an allegory for the onset of dementia:

“Sometimes I wish I could forget what’s been happening. Then I remember that’s what I’m most afraid of.”

Naomi Salman expertly probes the link between memory and sanity. Laverne is afraid of forgetting, and the loss of memory makes her paranoid. Yet the suppression of memory can also act as a coping mechanism for those who have undergone trauma.

Nothing but the Rain further examines the lengths to which people will go to exploit memory loss in others. In this way, Nothing but the Rain explores a spectrum of gray morality that mirrors the perpetually gray, rainy days of Aloisville.

Naomi Salman’s writing is spare and haunting. Nothing but the Rain makes expert use of unreliable narration to keep the reader guessing and to bring an unexpectedly satisfying conclusion to the story.

The worldbuilding in Nothing but the Rain is slight but captivating. Naomi Salman employs the minimal level of worldbuilding necessary to tell her story, which works quite effectively for this short novella. Still, the end of the novella came too soon for my taste, leaving me thirsty for more time in this world. Additional material would deepen the themes already presented in this excellent novella and create an even more immersive experience.

Naomi Salman’s debut novella is delicate yet disturbing. Memories may fade, but Nothing but the Rain will linger with me for a long time.

4/5

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John Mauro

John Mauro

John Mauro lives in a world of glass amongst the hills of central Pennsylvania. When not indulging in his passion for literature or enjoying time with family, John is training the next generation of materials scientists at Penn State University, where he teaches glass science and materials kinetics. John also loves cooking international cuisine and kayaking the beautiful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.