In a letter to her early readers, for which I am proud to say I am one, Toronto author Marissa Stapley writes about how of all the books she has written, her latest Things To Do When It’s Raining ($22.99, Simon & Schuster Canada, release date Feb. 6) was her most personal of all.

Much like her main character, Mae Summers, Stapley has secrets in her family – her grandfather married her grandmother after her first husband died in a workplace accident. While Stapley’s mother called the man dad and she herself called him grandpa, Stapley wrote there was a slight distance “most likely created by all the things left unsaid.”

Mae’s story is similar.

After an accident that killed both her parents Mae Summers was raised by her grandparents Lilly and George at Summer’s Inn, Alexandria Bay,  New York. Gabe Broadbent, Mae’s closest friend, also began to call the inn home once things became too bad at home. The pair eventually fell in love, but the relationship ended when Gabe mysteriously left town. About a decade later, Mae returns to Summer’s Inn after a heartbreak and meets up with Gabe, returning home after his father becomes ill. The pair attempt to rekindle their relationship, but blocking their way is a lifetime of secrets.

They are the same secrets Lilly and George face including George’s fear about his best friend Everett – Lilly’s first love – who died in the Second World War and whose presence seems to overshadow everything including his relationship with his wife and granddaughter.

“I hope that whatever your secrets are – because everyone has secrets – and whatever you have struggled with – because we all struggle – you will find peace in these pages, too,” Stapley writes.

While I am not sure I found peace, I did find a story I really enjoyed with characters I liked, but who were, for the most part, seriously flawed. Each of the characters had a true struggle and each tried her best to overcome those hardships and pains.

I did, however, find George’s behaviour ridiculous and frustrating. His jealousy off his long-dead friend seemed over the top and his actions were just plain stupid. You would think after decades of being with one person, sharing your life and raising your family together, you would know your importance and your place in a family. The continuation of his quest also seemed pointless to me, but then, unlike George apparently, I truly believe that blood doesn’t matter.

The book was a nice read and a quick one. I also liked the suggestions by Virginia Summers – Mae’s mother – on what to do in the rain.

Other reads:

Interested in family history or #genealogy, check out this Q&A with Richard Hill about finding your family using DNA.

I have read books from a number of great Toronto authors including:

Mary Jennifer Payne’s Solomon’s Ring plus contest.

Jennifer Gold’s On the Spectrum .

Leslie Shimotakahara’s After the Bloom.

and LE Sterling’s True North, among others. Search “Toronto” in Book Time to find more.

A copy of this book was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada for an honest review. The opinions are my own.