This year I wanted to change a few thing about my reading habits. I have always read a ton of books but not much else. Well, if you've been following me for some time now, you may have noticed I started reading more graphic novels, manga, and non-fiction books. Along with them, I've also wanted to read a few more short stories and I've read a couple that were part of series I was reading, but never a stand-alone short story. Well, today I've decided to change that! I decided to read The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu. It's a short story that got a lot of buzz a few years back during the 2014 Hugo Awards and I wanted to see what the story was all about.
The story follows Matt, a Chinese biotech engineer, who lives in a world where if you lie, copious amounts of water rains down upon you. In this rain-filled world, Matt must spend a Christmas celebration with his family and work up the nerve to tell them he and his lover, Gus, plan on getting married. However, things become more complicated when his sister gets involved and refuses to let Matt have the chance to come out to his family. It's a hard-hitting tale most queer people must overcome with sci-fi elements thrown in.
I really enjoyed this story. John Chu has a very straightforward writing style. What I enjoyed most about it is how he incorporates his own language into the story. I don't read or understand Chinese, be it Mandarin or Cantonese, but I loved seeing Chu's language throughout the story. And he uses the language unapologetically. Mind you, he doesn't leave the reader hanging. You can figure out what the characters are saying either by the author giving you the translation right after the Chinese, or with enough context clues. I'm glad he decided to write his story in such a way.
The characters are all beautifully developed, complex characters! Matt is struggling with who he is as a person and not wanting to disappoint his family. He also is having a hard time admitting what he feels because of years of shame and guilt. His lover, Gus, is so loving and supportive but he, too, has his limits. He loves Matt and will do anything for him but also knows when he needs to give space to the one he loves. Matt's family also have many layers to them. I love Matt's mother so much for reasons I cannot describe because it's a HUGE spoiler to the short story but she is amazing! Michele, Matt's sister, is the only one that seems to have a problem with Matt being gay. It's mentioned multiple times throughout the story that she treats him poorly because she loves him and only wants what's best for him. But from the reader's point of view, she is selfish, cruel, and close-minded. One message that I took away from this short story is that, yes, you can love your family but if they are causing you harm, then a bit of separation is healthy for everyone involved. I love this short story.
If you love reading short stories about coming-of-age LGBTQIAP+/racially diverse characters with a sci-fi twist, then I highly recommend you give this one a read. The only downside to this story is that I, ironically, found it to be too short. If there were about five to six more paragraphs showing what happened after the last event, then I think it would have been a solid short story. As it is, it's a good story with a bit of an abrupt end. Still, I do recommend this short story. It's such a beautifully told tale about two men in love and the obstacles they must face just to be together.