The tragedy of the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma comes alive in Jennifer Wright’s novel that portrays this dark time in America’s history while also offering glimmers of hope, redemption, and new life.
Kathryn Baile is 14 years old in 1935 when her sister marries and her father and his new, young wife decide to leave their ruined farm in Boise City, Okla. Part of the plan is for Kathryn to have surgery in faraway Indianapolis to fix her severely clubbed foot. Tragedy strikes on the journey, however, and Kathryn must fend for herself as she heads north alone.
She yearns for her sister Melissa, who married the town scion, Henry Mayfield, only to discover that moving from a dirt-floor dugout on a worn piece of farmland to a big house in town isn’t everything she dreamed of. Henry’s smooth veneer is stripped away, leaving Melissa to cover the bruises he leaves on her as best she can. Melissa befriends Annie Gale, a single mother scraping to get by and feed her children. Although she knows Henry would never approve, she hires Annie to help clean the big house and in the end finds a friend.
As Kathryn meets a variety of traveling strangers who help her find her way to Indianapolis, and as Melissa struggles to put on a good face as her marriage crumbles, both young women find the God-given strength within themselves to face down their worst enemies: their own fear and the never-ending dryness of the Dust Bowl. As Wright says in the book, “Because God’s there in the hard things, too.”
Wright doesn’t hide the deep struggles of Kathryn, Melissa, and even the earth to overcome the worst circumstances and find the true meaning of joy and family. Those who love Dust Bowl stories will find a favorable comparison to Susie Finkbeiner’s Dust Bowl series, and those who love excellent historical fiction will find a fine novel here. (Tyndale)