I have always had a fascination with the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and the strength required of the people living in that time and area to survive. I often wondered if I would have. There are many books set in that time and place all demonstrating the hard, hard life. But most of the books show us only one side, the side of the people who left their farms and homes to drive across country to California where they were promised more and better. Of course, the work turned out to be less and not so great, but at least it was green and wet.
I Will Send Rain is a story about a family that stayed. In the town of Mulehead, Oklahoma, Annie Bell fights the dust with determination. She is determined to make life appear normal even if it is far from it. In order to make a difference in the drought, there must be 16 inches of rain and in the excitement of seeing big black clouds rolling along the horizon, the family mistakes them for rain but the skies bring black clouds of dust instead, the black topsoil rolling along the land. And this storm is only the beginning. Dust covers everything, hair, food, clothes, animal’s eyes, confounding the livestock. It gets into everything, even her son Fred’s lungs. Fred has dust pheumonia, but he is never down about his condition. He wants to be normal, not wear the mask, run and collect bones for his bone pile he hopes to sell for fertilizer someday.
Annie’s daughter, Birdie, is fifteen and anxious to see the world outside Mulehead. She does what she can to help out and keep Fred’s spirits up, but she wants more than dust in her life. Birdie and her neighbor Cy begin to dream of another life somewhere clean.
Samuel, Annie’s husband, has turned to the only thing he can think of to bring rain. God. Samuel decides, along with Fred, to build an ark because when it does finally rain, they are going to need one.
Annie can’t tolerate much for long anymore and finds her own ways to cope with the heat, dust and depression.
The more I read about this time in our history, the more I try to place myself there and question my own strength to endure. The more I read the more I know how weak I am.