I Will Send Rain
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.
Rae Meadows Discusses Dorothea Lange’s Photography and Her Inspiration For Writing Her Novel
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.
Lyrical, devastating… With echoes of Faulkner and Steinbeck, each character chases after a meager form of comfort and stability in this harsh, unforgiving landscape, where ‘every direction was the same. Flat, colorless, known.’ Annie’s efforts to save herself and her family end in sadness, but her refusal to submit to hopelessness shines through the dust and the tears.
– Oprah.com “Books to Read if You Love Fierce, Smart Women”
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…A vibrant, absorbing novel that stays with the reader.
– Publishers Weekly, starred review
An exceptional talent for creating vivid imagery and a tender regard for her characters mark Meadows’ new novel. . .Similar to John Steinbeck’s haunting portrait of tenant farmers in The Grapes of Wrath, but also with the gritty, bittersweet elements in Rilla Askew’s Harpsong (2007) and the poignant lyricism of Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust (1997).
– Booklist, starred review
[I Will Send Rain] make[s] the past feel modern and create[s] an easy kinship between the reader and Meadows’s pitch-perfect characters. Alternately delicate and elegiac, glowing and ferocious, this slow dance through the devastation of history leaves readers with a glimpse of the cost to those who stayed to brave the hard times.
– Shelf Awareness
I Will Send Rain is delightfully vivid, both in the setting and the windows into the characters. The reader can taste the dust, and the longing in the characters’ mouths. I didn’t feel that I was reading as much as watching, and that kind of dive into prose always speaks highly for a novel. I Will Send Rain is an impressive showing from Meadows, well worth checking out.
Rae Meadows’ I Will Send Rain is as lush and powerful as the novel’s Dust Bowl setting is dry and cracked–Meadows paints the Bell family’s desperation with compassion and warmth, and her precise language turns grit into gold.
– Emma Straub
I Will Send Rain is meticulously researched, deeply felt, and beautifully written, and I loved immersing myself in its harsh and elegant world.
– Curtis Sittenfeld
In I Will Send Rain you’ll find compassion, heartbreak, and not a word out of place. Meadows shares with John Steinbeck not just a gigantic empathy but a gigantic storytelling gift. This is a novel where love and laughter abide.
– Darin Strauss