The Driest Season

When 15-year-old Cielle discovers her father's suicide, she becomes the keeper of a secret that threatens her family's livelihood. Their Wisconsin farm is suffering a historic drought, and the patriarch's sudden death could be reason enough for the landowner to repossess it. As World War II rages overseas, Cielle grapples with tragedies both near and far from home. The war takes young men from their hometown and returns them changed, if it returns them at all.

The Driest Season is Meghan Kenny's debut novel, based on her Iowa Review Award-winning short story of the same name. It explores the ways tragedy can alter a person and, for Cielle, how those changes intersect with those of adolescence. She begins to consider the big issues facing her community and herself--love and melancholy, the consequences of truth and lies, and the fears and benefits of leaving or staying.

Kenny's prose is quiet and lovely: "Her house, her skin, the light in the sky, and the leaves on the trees all seemed more alive than ever, and she was more aware of herself and everything, in vibration, breathing, part of something bigger." The plot doesn't propel the narrative. Instead, the book sits quietly, like summer heat, amid unanswerable questions about things beyond our control. It's a coming-of-age story that could be published as YA, and lends itself to crossover readership. --Katy Hershberger, freelance writer, bookseller, and publicist

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