Please join me in welcoming Jennifer L. Wright to the blog today to talk about her new historical fiction release, If It Rains!
IF IT RAINS
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: July 6, 2021
A story of resilience and redemption set against one of America’s defining moments—the Dust Bowl.
It’s 1935 in Oklahoma, and lives are determined by the dust. Fourteen-year-old Kathryn Baile, a spitfire born with a severe clubfoot, is coming of age in desperate times. Once her beloved older sister marries, Kathryn’s only comfort comes in the well-worn pages of her favorite book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Then Kathryn’s father decides to relocate to Indianapolis, and only the promise of a surgery to finally make her “normal” convinces Kathryn to leave Oklahoma behind. But disaster strikes along the way, and Kathryn must rely on her grit and the ragged companions she meets on the road if she is to complete her journey.
Back in Boise City, Melissa Baile Mayfield is the newest member of the wealthiest family in all of Cimarron County. In spite of her poor, rural upbringing, Melissa has just married the town’s most eligible bachelor and is determined to be everything her husband—and her new social class—expects her to be. But as the drought tightens its grip, Henry’s true colors are revealed. Melissa covers her bruises with expensive new makeup and struggles to reconcile her affluent life with that of her starving neighbors. Haunted by the injustice and broken by Henry’s refusal to help, Melissa secretly defies her husband, risking her life to follow God’s leading.
Two sisters, struggling against unspeakable hardship, discover that even in their darkest times, they are still united in spirit, and God is still with them, drawing them home.
Redemption Through Dust
by Jennifer L. Wright, author of If It Rains
In the early nineteenth century, just after the close of the Civil War, the United States government enacted a series of federal land acts in an effort to entice people westward. Over the next several decades, thousands upon thousands of pioneers descended on the plains of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, as well as parts of New Mexico and Colorado, to claim their cheap land. Finding the countryside full of wide-open spaces, the settlers began ripping out grass that covered the gently rolling hills to plant their crops—and the Great Plains agricultural boom began.
A steady economy, bolstered by the high demand of wheat in Europe during World War I, created a plowing frenzy. At its height, farmers were making more money than factory workers; the most successful were even outpacing the salary of Babe Ruth or the president of the United States himself.
All of that changed on October 24, 1929. Thousands of miles away, the stock market crashed and sent reverberations throughout the country. Banks shuttered. Wheat prices plummeted. The situation looked dire, even for the most well-off of farmers.
And then the rains stopped.
Without moisture or natural grass to hold the soil in place, the winds of the Great Plains began throwing dirt hundreds of miles into the air, creating massive, swirling storms of earth that buried houses, suffocated animals, and sent thousands fleeing from their homesteads. It’s estimated roughly 2.5 million people left the Dust Bowl during the 1930s; many others, however, elected to stay.
My novel If It Rains tells the tale of two sisters separated by these choices. Fourteen-year-old Kathryn accompanies her father and stepmother on a journey to escape the dust . . . and her own shame. Crippled from birth, Kathryn believes the drought has only highlighted her ineptitude; if only she could fix herself, she thinks, she could somehow fix this disaster and save her home.
Meanwhile, her older sister, Melissa, stays behind. Newly married to the town’s wealthiest landowner, she is determined to make it through the drought with her husband by her side. The dichotomy of suffering between rich and poor, however, as well as the revelation of her husband’s true character, leads Melissa into a battle all her own: against nature rebelling around her and the condition of the human heart.
Although separated by hundreds of miles and on journeys of their own, the sisters are bound by their love for one another and the land in which they were raised. Through the dust, each is forced to confront the brokenness of our sinful world; through the same dust, they also find redemption.
God often uses the hard things of this world to open our eyes and soften our stubborn hearts.
It was only through the drought and subsequent natural disaster of the Dust Bowl that the settlers of the Great Plains were confronted with the reality of the land around them: the plains were never meant to be plowed. The “Dirty Thirties,” while full of horrific suffering, were necessary for both farmers and the US government to understand the delicate ecosystem in place across the grasslands—an ecosystem disrupted by greed. It was only because of the dust that plans were enacted to return the plains to the original design; settlers began to work with the land, rather than against it.
In much the same way, it is the external force of the Dust Bowl that leads to an internal redemption in the hearts and lives of Melissa and Kathryn. Forced from everything she’s ever known by the very ground she calls home, Kathryn must examine the weight of her guilt and discover the possibility of a love God has been offering all along. Melissa, meanwhile, must face the inequality of adversity and decide whether to follow God’s prompting or her own.
In If It Rains, thousands of acres of dust shape the hearts of two very different girls. Through hardship and suffering, they are scraped raw and pushed to the brink of defeat. But all is not hopeless. Because when you wipe away the dust, you are left with truth . . . and the beauty of God’s grace even in the most severe of times.
Jennifer L. Wright has been writing since middle school, eventually earning a master’s degree in journalism at Indiana University. However, it took only a few short months of covering the local news for her to realize that writing fiction is much better for the soul and definitely way more fun. A born and bred Hoosier, she was plucked from the Heartland after being swept off her feet by an Air Force pilot and has spent the past decade traveling the world and, every few years, attempting to make old curtains fit in the windows of a new home. She currently resides in New Mexico with her husband, two children, and one rambunctious dachshund.
Tyndale House is offering a print copy of If It Rains to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read If It Rains by Jennifer L Wright?