Sunday, August 21, 2016

"I Will Send Rain"

Rae Meadows is the author of Calling Out, which received the 2006 Utah Book Award for fiction, No One Tells Everything, a Poets & Writers Notable Novel, and the widely praised novel, Mercy Train (released in hardback as Mothers and Daughters).

Meadows applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, I Will Send Rain, and reported the following:
I love the magical Page 69 Test. In I Will Send Rain, page 69 lands us smack in the middle of a pivotal scene where Annie and Samuel Bell, a husband and wife who have been quietly unraveling, have it out, as much as these stoic characters have it out. It’s the only time they confront each other in the book. The Bells are struggling with a failing farm in the Oklahoma Panhandle during the Dust Bowl, and they have begun to turn away from one another. Samuel clings more desperately to his faith and believes he is hearing God. Annie, who years before had begun to shut the door on God, is tempted by the attentions of another man, and for the first time is questioning her whole life. Earlier in the scene, Annie thinks Samuel has discovered her secret, but instead he reveals one of his own:
Annie finished her drink and rubbed her face. Samuel waited for her to speak but she didn’t.

“Fred and I were talking,” he said.


“He has an idea. About the rain. About how to protect us when it comes.”

“Fred is an imaginative little boy.”

“I think he’s right,” Samuel said.

She shook her head, trying to regain the clarity she had felt a moment before.

“We’re going to build a boat,” he said, feeling the idea solidify for the first time.

Annie hid her eyes with her palms and dug her fingertips in her forehead.

“I know how it sounds,” he said.

“Do you?”

“It’s not crazy, though.”

“Please, Samuel. You are a farmer in a drought.”

Her bitterness stung him.

“Psalms 46, verse 10. Be still, and know that I am God,” he said.

“Please don’t quote Scripture to me.” She dropped her glass in the sink with an angry clang.

Samuel sank into himself.

“Fred is right,” he said. “I know it. And I will do what I have to do to keep us safe.”

His once tentative question about the rain, over the past weeks, had with Fred’s help crystallized into belief. With time Annie would have to see the truth of it.

“Stop!” she shouted, covering her mouth quickly with her hands.
This could be a scene where they connect and come together in a meaningful way, but instead they are driven further apart, or perhaps it’s indicative of how far they have already drifted. Neither can get through to the other, and they will continue to bend away—Samuel will begin to build a boat in a veritable desert, and Annie will consider leaving all of it behind. I think page 69 is quite representative of the book, even though it’s part of the only scene of its kind. Annie and Samuel harden their positions, which will have reverberations throughout the novel.
Learn more about the book and author at Rae Meadows's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mothers and Daughters.

--Marshal Zeringue