Rae Meadows
In Rae Meadow’s new novel I Will Send Rain, 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. “The author has an abundance of feeling for the Bells,” our reviewer writes, “and the reader comes to care deeply about them as they deal with unimaginable loss.”


Set in Dust Bowl Oklahoma in the early 1930s, this is the harrowing story of a farm family struggling to survive a seemingly endless drought and the privations it brings.

Drawing her title from a verse in Deuteronomy, author Meadows (Mercy Train, 2012) focuses on the Bell family, Annie and Samuel, who have migrated from Kansas in search of a better life, and their children Birdie and Fred. The book begins slowly, as the author introduces her resolute characters, who are trying to maintain some semblance of a normal life, and describes, in vivid detail, the parched, unforgiving landscape where dust storms destroy fields and crops. Then the pace picks up: Birdie, a headstrong 15-year-old, has been carrying on with Cy, the son of a local farmer; now Annie, a devoted farm wife who hasn’t completely lost her youthful spark, is tempted by the advances of the slick town mayor. Dreamy 8-year-old Fred, who doesn’t speak, communicating via a small chalkboard he carries with him, develops a lung ailment, and the God-fearing Samuel, perhaps the most overwhelmed member of the family, starts building a boat—convinced, somehow, that flooding rains are on the way and he will need to shelter his family with his own version of Noah’s Ark. The writing is richly evocative throughout, precise in its depiction of the harsh natural world and tender in its renderings of the complicated emotional lives of the main characters. The author has an abundance of feeling for the Bells, and the reader comes to care deeply about them as they deal with unimaginable loss.

There’s a relentless quality to the novel, and it can almost seem too grim, especially at the end. But there are saving graces in the form of powerful writing and memorable characters who are hard to shake off even after you’ve read the last page.

Recent Interviews

Katey Sagal

author of GRACE NOTES

April 10, 2017
GRACE NOTES by Katey Sagal In her memoir Grace Notes, actress and singer/songwriter Katey Sagal takes you through the highs and lows of her life, from the tragic deaths of her parents to her long years in the Los Angeles rock scene, from being diagnosed with cancer at the age of twenty-eight to getting her big break on the fledgling FOX network as the wise-cracking Peggy Bundy on the beloved sitcom Married…with Children. Sparse and poetic, Grace Notes is an emotionally riveting tale of struggle and success, both professional and personal: Sagal’s path to sobriety; the stillbirth of her first daughter, Ruby; motherhood; the experience of having her third daughter at age 52 with the help of a surrogate; and her lifelong passion for music. “While this book is sure to please the author’s many fans, its thoughtful, no-regrets honesty will no doubt also appeal to readers of Hollywood memoirs seeking substance that goes beyond gossip and name-dropping,” our critic writes. “A candid, reflective memoir.” View video >

Emma Donoghue


April 3, 2017
THE LOTTERYS PLUS ONE by Emma Donoghue In Emma Donoghue’s new middle-grade novel, The Lotterys Plus One, Sumac Lottery is nine years old and the self-proclaimed "good girl" of her (VERY) large, (EXTREMELY) unruly family. And what a family the Lotterys are: four parents, children both adopted and biological, and a menagerie of pets, all living and learning together in a sprawling house called Camelottery. Then one day, the news breaks that one of their grandfathers is suffering from dementia and will be coming to live with them. And not just any grandfather; the long dormant "Grumps," who fell out with his son so long ago that he hasn't been part of any of their lives. Suddenly, everything changes. Sumac has to give up her room to make the newcomer feel at home. She tries to be nice, but prickly Grumps's clearly disapproves of how the Lotterys live: whole grains, strange vegetables, rescue pets, a multicultural household....He's worse than just tough to get along with—Grumps has got to go! But can Sumac help him find a home where he belongs? “Full of clever names and wordplay, this engaging tale is moving without veering into sentimentality,” our critic writes in a starred review. “For all the Lotterys’ apparent eccentricity, the novel delves into universal themes of family relationships that will resonate with readers from all backgrounds.” View video >