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Momma's Rain by Tom (WordWulf) SternerHowe

Momma’s Rain has just been released by Gatto Publishing. Check it out at:
The novel is available as an e-book and also on CD.  The CD version is complete with nine songs written and performed by the author.  If you’re interested, the first chapter and an interview with the author may be viewed at:  You may sample the music at:
Songs included on the CD are: Death in Small Houses, Haunting Me, Farewell Captain Charlie, Of Lips, Mother, and Wine, I’m Bound to Ride Again, Slay the Dragon, Legend of New Horse, Cold Winter Eyes, and Curse of Days.

Momma’s Rain
American Camp:
Frail Monsters/Wounded Souls
begins the saga of a destitute family, during the 50s, struggling with abuse, tragedy, and the demons within themselves. Adults who tend to steer towards the complicated grittier side of literary fiction, hard-boiled and up-close, will appreciate SternerHowe's latest work.

The story opens with seven-year-old Tim, the protagonist and narrative voice in the book, escaping into the cellar of his family's run-down rental home, away from the horrible scene of his brother Jerry's abuse at the hands of their father. When he finally makes a return to the kitchen, his mother discovers his hiding in the basement and aims to soothe his worries while defending her husband's actions.

The next morning, Tim's brothers are missing. He and his mother set out in the cold to search for them, without his father's assistance. Tim conditionally gathers discarded cigarette butts for his mother as he usually does – the only act that keeps his mind from believing something horrible has happened to his brothers.

By the third day of their disappearance, Jerry and Peter are caught stealing from a store and are brought home by the police. Due to the awful publicity of their father being a suspect and not being able to keep up with rent payments on their home, the family returns to their hometown.

Their arrival at Denver, Colorado establishes them within the home of the father's sister, Phyllis, and her husband, Jer (whom young Jerry is named after and is the recipient of his uncle's fondest affection.) In a reversal, it is now Tim who suffers ill feelings and abuse by the hands of Uncle Jer.

The boys are registered in school, and Tim finds solace in the only friend he has, his cousin Mary Lou. She tries to help Tim cope with her father and adjust in school. However, when Tim is severely humiliated and punished in class, his mother removes her children for a few days after giving the principal an earful and displaying her true loving nature for her kids.

Finally fed up with her situation, she arrives at the school one day with packed luggage, gathers her children, and flees to a nearby train station; they're bound for Saint Louis, Missouri, where she's offered a room in a boarding house and a job as a waitress. Soon, she becomes romantically involved with Uncle Jer, and his presence is, once again, Tim's damnation. Only when his mother sees blood on his T-shirt one day, she discovers the abuse that's been going on and orders Jer to leave permanently.

Mother and children are on the move again, this time with her sober husband. The family attempts to escape the temptation of returning to their former lives by relocating to Montana. Although the father finds work fixing roofs, it's not enough to make payments; the family is evicted from one housing complex to the next until they are finally established at an apartment building.

One day, it catches fire – mother and children are faced with a time-sensitive issue of trust. The only escape is to jump out of a window, and Tim's father begs his family to trust him one more time.

Children do not hate. They love and hope. Theirs is not a will to avenge but a passion to survive. There's courage and inherent sadness, a truth that children must strive to repair their broken parents and, in so doing, may just save themselves.

Posted: August 12, 2005 

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