If It Rains
Jennifer L. Wright
Tyndale House Publishers (2021)
Reviewed by Ashley Hooker for Reader Views (06/2021)
“If It Rains” is the story of two sisters, Melissa and Kathryn, whose bond is unbreakable. Melissa and Kathryn have been living in Oklahoma with their Pa during the time of the Dust Bowl. Melissa marries Henry Mayfield and moves from a dugout home to a grand house with walls that are sealed from the dust. Kathryn is still young and lives with a clubfoot, guilt over the death of her mother, and anger toward her stepmother Helen.
Pa and Helen do what many people during the Dust Bowl did. They chose to move. Kathryn doesn’t want to go even though Helen’s father is a doctor that can fix her foot. She already feels like she has lost so much when her sister marries and moves out. Melissa is excited about her new marriage to Henry Mayfield but finds she has a harder time adjusting to the good life.
The plot of “If It Rains” centers on a dust storm that leaves Kathryn stranded and separated from her Pa and Helen. Kathryn is a girl I can relate to. She is determined to get to Indianapolis no matter what. She has a grit and determination that only someone who has lived a hard life can have. Her journey consists of men who betray her and help her, long walks, horseback riding, and jumping a train.
Melissa’s story drives home the idea that some things are not what they seem. We can have big dreams and see the best in people. We can try our hardest to please everyone, especially those we love. Even with all our hard work, we can’t make people love us back.
What I truly loved about this story is how Kathryn describes her family and the people of Oklahoma. She says, “We can either shine in the dark or be overcome by it. Sometimes shining means staying. Other times shining means going. But it never means quit.” As a product of the Appalachian Mountains, I understand what she is saying. We might have to leave for a time, but home is always waiting with open arms. We never give up. Everything we do in life is for the good of our families.
Jennifer Wright has crafted a beautiful story with historical references to the Dust Bowl. I appreciate the way she has brought fact and fiction together. Her story reminds us that home is not just a place. It is a feeling that can’t be described. A sense of peace we can’t understand.