The childhood trauma of witnessing Rwanda’s genocide gives Theo an unwanted perspective on life as he sinks into the mire of a Dublin underclass fuelled by drug money. But as he reluctantly adapts to a life of urban conflict he can’t escape the blood soaked images of his African past.
His foster parents, Jim and Sheila, provided a second chance in a distant land but as youthful gratitude seeps into the concrete to be replaced by the growing pains of maturity Theo is unable to block out the memories of violent deaths replayed in the nightmares of sleep.
The author interplays the contrasting environments of Dublin’s urban and social decay with Rwanda’s internecine descent into anarchy. The cloying heat and immediacy of the jungle become a metaphor for memories trapped in the dark recesses hidden from the light and soaked in a blanket of fear but the grey, wet and inanimate Dublin cityscape offers no relief seeming to impose a physical barrier on ambition, hope and escape.
The battered but optimistic Deirdre offers a beacon of hope as Theo struggles to come to terms with a life meandering out of control but the reader is still able to empathise with qualities impaired by a struggle to unpick a past dominated by trauma induced amnesia.
His search for the truth is overshadowed by physical and emotional loss yet perversely it’s Deirdre’s father Seamus, an IRA veteran whose deadly past is now masked by a misanthropic love of the wild, who introduces him to the spiritual healing qualities of nature. This surprising friendship triggers the final piece in the emotional jigsaw that ultimately takes the story full circle to the source of all the pain.
Rain falling on everyone suggests that death and misfortune are indiscriminate but it is how we deal with the vagaries of nature and life that gives the individual hope and control over their future.