The One-Way Rain is a slender novel with bold ambitions. Author Cathy Jacobowitz introduces us to a nightmarish future America where police operate with impunity in an apartheid state. The book suggests that 9/11 was an inside job, orchestrated by a U.S. corporation (“Sirocco”) to precipitate a gradual introduction of racial segregation. By 2023, this segregation has taken full effect and people of color are exiled to beyond “the wall,” a place called SAPID (Special Assistance Perimeter Interim District). Economic inequality, police brutality and the decay of civil rights are masked by the wall itself and by “popshow” (ubiquitous e-billboards), “tap-taps” (cell phones), and “Lollysnax” (cheap, tasty junk food).
Enter Sterling Teacher, a privileged white woman living within the wall’s confines. She has sickened of popshow and its concomitant culture, and begun moonlighting as a saboteur. But when a girl from beyond the wall is abducted to become a popshow prop, Sterling decides she has had enough. She rescues the girl from capitivity and delivers her to Aimee, a friend with rebel ties.
Sterling’s introduction to Aimee’s colleague Lore really starts pushing the novel forward. Lore is a black woman from beyond the wall—and, like Sterling, a lesbian—who has grander ambitions than just shorting out a few billboards. She wants to lead a revolution and restore justice to America. . . .
The coda to the novel’s first act is a chilling speech delivered by Lore to roughly forty people in an old, drafty church. Jacobowitz has a knack for injecting humor when least expected—in the midst of Lore’s speech about the atrocities committed by the U.S. government, she writes: “ ‘Six years ago, my father and mother were murdered by Sirocco and dumped at my front door in body bags. We were later invoiced for the body bags.’ ” . . .
As Reka and Aimee and Sterling struggle to balance their own will to survive with what they know is right, Jacobowitz shows us just how dangerous it is when we learn to prize comfort and convenience over justice. . . . Jacobowitz has produced a well-written, concise novel with heart and humor.