I Will Send Rain

Holt. Aug. 2016. 272p. ISBN 9781627794268. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781627794275. F
OrangeReviewStarAnnie Bell went against her family's wishes when she married Samuel, a farmer, instead of choosing the life of a minister's wife. Leaving Kansas for the promise of free land in Oklahoma, the couple discovers their dreams have a price during the severe drought and dust storms of 1934. Loss and hardship leave a once loving partnership in tatters as Samuel becomes increasingly devout, believing that God has instructed him to build an ark to survive the coming flood. Annie turns toward another man with dreams of what might have been, while her daughter Birdie falls in love with a neighbor boy with whom she plans to escape. Annie's mute young son, Fred, may be sickly, but he has a bright and curious mind and notices everything. The dust storm exposes the cracks within the Bell family even as they muster their strength in the face of impending disaster. In her fourth novel, Meadows's (Mercy Train) lyrical and descriptive writing evokes a harsh landscape of dust, bones, and abandoned homes. She uses symbolism to great effect whether sacred (the boat) or mundane (an apron represents ties to family and home). The unforgettable characters show grit, determination, and brokenness in equal measure.
VERDICT An outstanding choice for book discussion groups.
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