cover image If It Rains

If It Rains

Jennifer L. Wright. Tyndale, $25.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4964-5684-7

Wright’s lovely debut centers on two sisters in Dust Bowl–era Oklahoma. In 1935, Melissa and Kathryn Baile break their close bond when Melissa marries into the wealthiest family in Boise City. Melissa immediately regrets her decision upon realizing her husband’s expectation is to blend into her new station and sever ties with her family and former life of poverty. To cope, Melissa relies on prayer. Meanwhile, 14-year-old Kathryn, born with a clubfoot, reluctantly heads to Indianapolis with her father and stepmother, who has convinced Kathryn that her surgeon father will be able to repair the disability. After a dust storm separates all three, Kathryn relies on help from a few vagabonds as she tries to find her family. While Kathryn can come off as obnoxious, and the actions the outwardly pious Melissa takes to get revenge on her husband will frustrate some readers, the circumstances the Baile sisters face provide fertile ground for reflections on questioning one’s faith. In the end, belief in God sees both sisters through difficult decisions to find their way back together. Wright’s adept depiction of the times capture the grit of the Dust Bowl. Fans of Tracie Peterson should check this out. (July)