Book review stop! Today I’m delighted to be the host for If It Rains, a historical novel written by J.L. Wright.
First thing first, let me thank the publisher, Tyndale House Publication, for providing me with an e-copy of this book. Much obliged *hat tip*
MEET THE BOOK
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.
Poisoned Pen Press
Publication date: 06/07/21
READ MY REVIEW
The long and the short of If It Rains is, it blew me away. Complex story, complex characters, an unsympathetic MC, entwined subplots, and splendid growth arcs. What’s not to love?
The two MCs, Kathryn and Melissa, are relatable and they both have powerful, unique voices. It’s hard to accomplish such a feat with a double POV novel, as one of them tends to read weaker than the other, but Wright did it. It’s a testament to her writing skills, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Speaking of skills, I’m amazed at Wright’s prose. It flows in a beautiful way, with no grammar mistakes or typos in sight, and the structure of the book has a rock-solid foundation. Realism plays a big role in If It Rains, too: the gritty historical details are not glossed over, but they’re on display—this is how life was like, they tell the reader, this is how people survived.
The Christian element is woven within the historical background, adding a layer to it, and that’s a welcome detail. Faith is a central plot point, yet it’s not thrust in your face, but period-accurate and relevant to the story.
One more praise goes to the growth arc of Kathryn and Melissa. Truth be told, even the cast of characters goes through a similar arc (Helen!), but the self-discovery and acceptance of the two sisters is something beautiful to witness.
If I really had to find a flaw, my red pen would point at Henry. He’s on the brink, as I think a couple more layers would have added and shaped up his personality. As it is, he reads a bit, um, static? A villain with little chance of redemption may sound unidimensional.
4.5 stars on GR, rounded up to 5.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Wright has been writing since middle school, eventually earning a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University. However, it took only a few short months of covering the local news to realize that writing fiction is much better for the soul–and definitely way more fun. A born and bred Hoosier, she was 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, one grumpy dachshund, and an overly demanding guinea pig.
She is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers Association), and can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and sometimes (but very rarely) on Twitter. She also blogs at www.jennwrightwrites.com
“If It Rains” is her first novel and is available from Tyndale House Publishers wherever books are sold.
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