A luminous, tenderly rendered novel of a woman fighting for her family's survival in the early years of the Dust Bowl; from the acclaimed and award-winning Rae Meadows.
Annie Bell can't escape the dust. It's in her hair, covering the windowsills, coating the animals in the barn, in the corners of her children's dry, cracked lips. It's 1934 and the Bell farm in Mulehead, Oklahoma is struggling as the earliest storms of The Dust Bowl descend. All around them the wheat harvests are drying out and people are packing up their belongings as storms lay waste to the Great Plains. As the Bells wait for the rains to come, Annie and each member of her family are pulled in different directions. Annie's fragile young son, Fred, suffers from dust pneumonia; her headstrong daughter, Birdie, flush with first love, is choosing a dangerous path out of Mulehead; and Samuel, her husband, is plagued by disturbing dreams of rain.
As Annie, desperate for an escape of her own, flirts with the affections of an unlikely admirer, she must choose who she is going to become. With her warm storytelling and beautiful prose, Rae Meadows brings to life an unforgettable family that faces hardship with rare grit and determination. Rich in detail and epic in scope, I Will Send Rain is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, filled with hope, morality, and love.
Meadows's (Calling Out) dark, moving novel chronicles a turning point in the lives of the Bells, a farming family in 1930s Oklahoma. After severe droughts and several dust storms, families are known to pack up and suddenly disappear from the once populous town of Mulehead. Annie Bell recognizes the restlessness in her teen daughter, Birdie, and hopes that Birdie gives herself a shot at a better life elsewhere rather than marrying local boy Cy Mack. Annie feels particularly unmoored herself; her attraction to Mayor Jack Lily formerly a Chicago newspaper reporter grows as her husband, Samuel, becomes increasingly religious. Annie and Samuel's bond has been tenuous since their second child, Eleanor, died as an infant. It doesn't help that Samuel regards the drought as a test from God and thinks of his nightmares of an upcoming flood as prophecy. Meadows writes the youngest Bell, sweet eight-year-old Fred, especially well. Fred, who has been mute since birth and besieged with chronic breathing problems, has a love of animals and an endearing, thoughtful nature. Annie and John begin an affair around the time Samuel begins constructing an ark with Fred's help, and Birdie soon finds herself with a secret. Sinister imagery is restrained but has impact: a town rabbit hunt that turns into a bloodthirsty killing spree ends with Fred trying to cry out while protecting the last trembling animal in his lap. Meadows's strength lies in letting her story be guided by the shadow and light of her well-rendered characters. When tragedy strikes or hope emerges, it makes sense and comes to fruition organically. This makes for a vibrant, absorbing novel that stays with the reader.