before the rain falls camille di maio book reivew

Before the Rain Falls by Camille Di Maio Book Review

Before the Rain Falls by Camille Di Maio Book Review

Della Lee finally returns to her Texan hometown of Puerto Pesar (translated as Port of regret) after 70 years in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula. At age 90, Della Lee is ready to confess the truth about what really happened the night of her sister’s death. She just needs to find the right person to listen.

In the local church hangs a painting of Eula, a girl idolized since her tragic death, rumored to cry real tears. Big-shot Boston journalist Mick Anders is assigned to cover the mysterious story of Eula’s tear-stained portrait. Although he’s sure this local tall tale is mere fanaticism, he takes the chance to cool off after a career-ruining scandal up North. Della Lee takes a shine to Mick and agrees to share the real story of her sister’s death. Mick finds himself falling for the attractive Dr. Paloma Vega Between interviews with aging Della Lee. Paloma has been called home to Puerto Pesar in order to care for her ailing grandmother and troubled younger sister.

Told through shifting perspectives and alternating timelines, the reader discovers that while all three have been pulled back to this dusty Texas town for one reason or another, none knew how their lives would change forever.

Book Review

Author Camille Di Maio mirrors the sisterly bond between present day Paloma and her younger sister with the conflicted relationship between Della and Eula in the 1940s with grace and thematic poignancy. What does it mean to be a family? Di Maio shares her answer through the breadth of her characters.

Aging Della Lee has a strict set of moral guidelines ingrained by her religious upbringing, which remain a major part of her life even after years in prison. She wisely explains the depth of that faith and how it led to decisions in her youth that would affect the rest of her life.  Through her surprising confessions, the reader is allowed to understand the type of choices that might have been made when the world’s moral standing was a little more black and white.

Della Lee’s undeniable spunk at age 90 made me fall head over heels in love with her wit and steadfastness of character (never mind the fact that she is a convicted murderer). It is rare to read a novel through the perspective of a woman decades older than the industry’s typical 20-year-old protagonist. It was heartbreaking to watch her story unfold through sweeping flashbacks which painfully recall the childhood romance that blossomed into lifetime of commitment and love. I felt such sadness for Della and her husband, separated as they were by prison bars, uncontrollable circumstances, and sometimes even by the stubbornness in their own hearts. Their love is shared with the reader in a way that is genuine and sincere.

What would I change?

Of all the characters in this book, Della felt the most real. If I could change anything about this book it would to forego the alternating perspectives from Mick and Paloma and instead tell the story solely from Della’s viewpoint. It would be just as poignant and perhaps more readily connect the reader to an already sweeping narrative. At times the combination of both alternating perspectives and varying timelines could be overwhelming and a bit distracting.

The modern-day attraction displayed between Mick and Paloma felt weak in comparison to the true love shown in Della’s 1940s timeline. While I did find this love story more shallow, it did act as a tie in to Di Maio’s sweeping saga style narrative.

Would I recommend this?

I would recommend Before the Rain Falls to any reader who enjoys the merits of family, no matter how tangled, who finds gratification in a love story well told, and who enjoys multiple perspective or shifting timeline narrative structures.

Other reviewers would seem to agree with my positive review. At the time of this posting Before the Rain Falls holds a 5 star review on Amazon and a 4.6 star review on GoodReads. It is certainly worth the add to your to-be-read stack.

The Bottom Line:

Camille Di Maio’s sweeping family saga is a tell-all of long kept secrets, a testament to sisterhood, and an exploration into how people can come together even after they’ve drifted apart.

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I hope you have enjoyed this Before the Rain Falls by Camille Di Maio book review. Keep scrolling for a rating breakdown and pro/con list.

A sweeping tell-all of long kept secrets, a testament to sisterhood, an exploration into how people can come together even after they've drifted apart.

Out of 10

Good Things

  • Strong protagonist
  • Beautiful writing
  • Impressive scope of story
  • Genuine romance

Bad Things

  • Alternate perspectives/timelines clouded the story line

The Breakdown

Writing Style

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