A “poignant [and] powerful” novel about a 1920s Midwestern community in the aftermath of a devastating tornado (The New Yorker).
In March 1925, the worst tornado in the nation’s history will descend without warning on the small town of Marah, Illinois. By nightfall, hundreds will be homeless and hundreds more will lie in the streets, dead or grievously injured. Only one man, Paul Graves, will still have everything he started the day with—his family, his home, and his business, all miraculously intact.
This “absolutely gorgeous” novel follows Paul Graves and his young family in the year after the storm as they struggle to comprehend their own fate and that of their devastated town (The New York Times). They watch helplessly as Marah tries to resurrect itself from the ruins and as their friends and neighbors begin to wonder how one family, and only one, could be exempt from terrible misfortune. As the town begins to recover, the family miscalculates the growing resentment and hostility around them with tragic results, in an “extraordinarily moving” portrayal of survivor’s guilt and the frenzy of bereavement following a disaster (Financial Times).
“All the big themes are here—chance, fate, loyalty, revenge, guilt, jealousy . . . Inspired by actual events surrounding the 1925 Tri-State tornado, the worst in U.S. history, Southwood’s poignantly penetrating examination of the psychic cost of survival is breathtaking in its depth of understanding.” —Booklist (starred review)
“What’s most exciting about Southwood’s debut is her prose, which is reminiscent of Willa Cather’s in its ability to condense the large, ineffable melancholy of the plains into razor-sharp images.” —The Daily Beast