In 1934, at the height of the Dust Bowl, the Interior Department hires geologist RJ Evans to open a soil lab in her drought-stricken Kansas home town. She knows locals won’t welcome a stubborn woman with a “fancy degree,” but the level of hostility is unexpected. How can she convince the disheartened to believe in a future? RJ translates six years of study into practical skills for her skeptical audience. She proves her mettle in every sandstorm. She loves her work. She falls in love with a farmer who calls her Rosa Jean, but he wants her to leave Kansas and her job. RJ’s life changes while she reexamines her personal goals, prompting her to make some surprising decisions. Readers may question RJ’s choices and wonder about her past, but her dilemma is touchingly familiar. By placing a recognizable protagonist in an almost unimaginable setting—a land under attack and a people uprooted—McCann (All Different Kinds of Free, 2011) has crafted an unforgettable novel. — Jeanne Greene
Jessica McCann's second historical novel, Peculiar Savage Beauty, was named "2018 Arizona Book of the Year" in the Arizona Authors Association annual literary contest. The novel also placed first in the published fiction category.