Excerpt from Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Rain Village

By Carolyn Turgeon

Rain Village
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Oct 2006,
    320 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


When I took a sip it was like drinking grass and sage.

“I have an idea,” she said, setting down her cup. “Why don’t we write out your name? It’s such a good name; it’s a shame not to set it down somewhere.”

We grabbed our tea and she led me out the door, over to a pile of wood stacked against the building. The sun, low in the sky now, made the landscape blaring and golden. I shielded my face with my hands and stared into it: the mountains hovering in the distance, the sun seeping through them like melting butter.

“Here we go,” Mary said, pulling a long twig from the pile. And she did the most amazing thing. She knelt close to the ground and began drawing shapes into the dirt.

“That,” she said, pointing, “is a T. For Tessa. Do you hear that? Ta.” Her mouth moved slowly over the sound, then spat it from the roof of her mouth.

“Ta,” I said.

As the sun dipped lower and lower into the horizon, Mary carved into the ground and broke my name into a stream of sounds and shapes: the crossing lines of a T and an E, the two snake shapes spinning out next to them, the shape of a swing set when you see it from the side. The letters seemed to swarm through the dirt, sparkling as if they had a life of their own.

“Your turn,” she said. I grabbed the twig and Mary guided me through each letter, slowly, until my name lay across the dirt twice—once in her elegant hand, and once in my own scrawl. When I was done putting my name there, I don’t think I had ever seen anything so astonishing.

“I did it! I can do that!” I cried.

“By the end of this month, little girl, you’ll be able to read words straight from the page. Why don’t you come back tomorrow and I’ll show you some new letters? In the afternoon?”

“There are more?” I asked, and then I thought about our name at Riley Farm, set out for the world to see. It was all so overwhelming to me, but Mary just laughed.

“I’m not sure what my parents will say,” I said. My heart began to sink then. I had no doubt this would be my first and last visit to Mercy Library, and that I would pay for it as soon as I got home.

“I know they don’t believe in schooling, but wouldn’t they like you to learn to read and write?”

“My father doesn’t believe in it. And my mother wouldn’t want me to learn here, from you.” I clapped my hand over my mouth. “I’m sorry,” I said.

“You know, Tessa,” Mary said, bending down to me. Her earrings swung back and forth and made a tinkling sound. “There have been more popular women than me in the world—among the womenfolk, that is. It’s all right. But it’d be a real shame for you to go through life without any words. You’re a smart girl.”

“Thank you,” I whispered, wondering why I felt like crying. I was so afraid I would never see her again, that I would wake up and realize I had only dreamt this. Fear clenched my chest as I imagined endless days surrounded by giant corn, the smell of earth on my hands, my family towering over me and stomping through the fields. It was like flying through the clouds one minute and dropping back to earth the next. I looked down at my name carved in the dirt, and I leaned down, snatched it from the earth, and dumped it in my pocket.

“Now give me a hug and get out of here,” she said, and leaned in and gathered me up. For a second the strong spice scent was everywhere. “I hope I’ll see you again soon, Tessa Riley. Come visit me anytime at all.”

Walking back through town, past the fields and farmhouses, I felt like a completely new person. I grasped the dirt in my pocket with my fist, felt it tingle in my palm, and stared up at the black star-speckled sky. The dirt crunched under my feet. I closed my eyes, listening to the rhythm of my walking, the lusty sounds of crickets and frogs in the distance. It was August, and the nighttime just made the heat seem thicker and more wet, like a substance I had to wade through. My heart pounded. The world was bursting with life. I took my time getting home, breathing the night air in and out, stretching out my arms to take it all in. Even if my father beats me black and blue, I thought, this day will have been worth it. No matter how bad things get, I will have this day.

Excerpted from Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon. Copyright © 2006 by Carolyn Turgeon. Excerpted by permission of Unbridled Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  96Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.