Young Tessa is a diminutive girl, far too small for farm work and the object of ridicule by both her own family and the other children in their isolated Midwestern community. Her father seems to believe in nothing beyond his crops, certainly not education for his misfit daughter. When a mysterious, entrancing librarian comes to town, full of fabulous stories, earthy wisdom and potions for the lovelorn, she takes Tessa under her wing, teaching her to read and to believe in herself—and a whole new magical world of possibilities opens up. But even as she blooms, Tessa’s father begins sexually abusing her. And her mentor carries a dark secret of her own that finally causes her to drown herself. Tessa runs off, following Mary’s footsteps, to join the circus as a trapeze artist, where she marries a loving man and finds a fulfilling life for herself amidst her new circus family. But she remains haunted by her past. And when a stranger from one of Mary’s fabulist tales shows up, Tessa risks everything to follow him to Rain Village, where she might finally discover her mentor’s tragic secret.
A brilliantly evocative debut set in the early part of the 20th century, steeped in emotional turbulence and down-to-earth wisdom, where a young woman must reconcile the inner traumas from her past and learn to live in the present in order to avoid becoming prisoner to her future. Rain Village casts a fabulous spell, pulling us into a world of mystery and possibility where love, friendship and loyalty might either destroy or set one free.
$24.95 us / $29.95 C | Fiction Hardcover | 6x9 | 320 pages
ISBN: 978-1-932961-24-9 | Carton Quantity: 24
For a few moments she just sat next to me, stretching her tanned legs into the street, smoothing her skirt over her knees. I could only sit and stare. I watched her hands and her calves and thought how her skin seemed warm, like a blanket, or bread just out of the oven. When she turned to me and smiled, I felt like I’d been struck.
“What a perfect little girl you are,” she said. “Why are you sitting here alone?”
I stared at her. I could barely believe that she was sitting right there in front of me. Mary Finn, who was the closest thing to a movie star that Oakley had ever seen.
But she just rubbed her brown arms and stuck her hand in her hair the way other women stick combs.
“Did you know that stars die?” she said. “They burn themselves out and they fade from the sky, but they are like ghosts.”
I looked at her.
“There are no ghosts,” I said quickly, then felt my face grow as red as the radishes my parents bent over to pick each day.
“Oh, but there are,” she said, smiling at me with her crooked teeth, and lifting my right hand into her own. “You see this pinky right here? This little half-moon on the bottom of your pinky nail? It was once a star, you know, a star burning in the sky, but when it came time for the star to disappear, it just fell to the earth instead. Every part of your body—the moon on your pinky nail, the blue rim in the center of your eye—was once part of a star.”
Not even my own mother had been kind to me like this. I felt all lit-up and almost glowing imagining my body spread across the night sky like an explosion, sparkling down to the half-moons on my fingernails.
“And so the stars come back to haunt us,” she said, “the way everything else does, sooner or later.”