It's 1934, and the Bell farm in Mulehead, Oklahoma, is struggling as the earliest storms of the Dust Bowl descend. The wheat harvests are drying out, and people are packing up their belongings as storms lay waste to the Great Plains. As the Bells wait for the rains to come, Annie Bell and each member of her family are pulled in different directions. Annie's son Fred suffers from dust pneumonia; her daughter Birdie is choosing a dangerous path out of Mulehead; and Samuel, Annie's husband, is plagued by disturbing dreams of rain. As Annie, desperate for an escape of her own, flirts with the affections of an unlikely admirer, she must choose who she is going to become.
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by Amanda Skenandore
by Sharon Kay Penman
by Rae Carson
"As the Dust Bowl descends on Mulehead, Oklahoma, the Bell family struggles to maintain hope. Through Emily Sutton-Smith's narration, listeners experience the figurative and literal dust settling deep within the family members. Annie Bell and her 15-year-old daughter, Birdie, are moving on opposite trajectories. As the initially pragmatic Annie's optimism increases, Birdie's flighty romanticism descends into disillusionment. Sutton-Smith's portrayals of the characters are strong. Especially noteworthy is the soft, uncertain voice of Samuel Bell, the father, as well as that of young Fred, a mute asthmatic whose world turns on him. Through the Bells and other characters, Sutton-Smith delivers a portrait of yearning as penetrating as the dust storms she describes. While numerous obvious edits detract from the production, Sutton-Smith's performance triumphs. K.W. © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"
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