Shayne, Alan. “The Rain May Pass”, Rand Smith, September 15, 2020.
It is not often that a book pulls me so quickly that I stop everything else and read it in one sitting. Such is the case with Alan Shayne’s “The Rain May Pass”. It is a sincere and beautifully written coming-of-age memoir. Beginning his story in the 1940s Brookline, Massachusetts, Shayne shares his teen years with us. This is the story of young Alan discovering his sexuality and coming to terms with it. We meet young Alan as he is preparing to spend the summer working in his grandmother’s shop on Cape Cod. This was to be a summer like none other— it was then that Shayne discovered he is. It was the summer before World War II and his parents decided that he had to go to the Cape and way from the city.
He grew up as a Jewish boy on the East Coast and like so many teens, he was quite sure that his parents did not understand him and that his older brother ignores him. He was dealing with his sexuality even though he has no comprehension of what it means and really has no idea of how to face it. That summer, he met Roger who was a good deal older than him and who initiated him into the world of gay sex. The two met by chance and while Alan was pretty sure of his sexual orientation, it took Roger for him to act on it.
There ws something about Roger, his first love, that gave Alan the strength to accept himself and to later continue his quest to become an actor and have an entertainment career. While that summer heralded his beginning with Roger, it also come to be the end of the two’s relationship. Roger enlisted in the service and Alan got a part in summer stock. Even though Roger had cone a few times to Brookline, he and Alan had no more intimate moments. Alan carried Roger with him for a long time and it was only when he became successful on the stage that he was able to let go of his unrequited love for the older guy.
We read of Alan’s relationship with his family as well and all of its dysfunctions. His parents really did not understand him nor did they know how to let go. His grandmother was no help either and they shared a non-relationship even though Shayne hoped that there would have been. Through Shayne, we see what it is to become a man.
I felt I was smiling as I read but there were also times that had me wiping tears from my eyes. The prose is simple yet lyrical and the short chapters give us Alan Shayne’s character in various incidents. We read from his perspective yet we also get the perspectives of the other characters.
I absolutely love this book and I loved being on Alan Shayne’s journey through his young years. I actually felt, at times, that I was right there beside him. Reading of his accepting himself was a real treat. Authenticity and honesty jump out from the pages.