Peculiar Savage Beauty (Hardcover)
Perspective Books, 9780999460207, 422pp.
Publication Date: February 16, 2018
2018 Arizona Book of the Year
The black blizzard is a formidable enemy. The furious storm blots out the sun, chokes the life from both man and beast. When RJ Evans finds herself engulfed in inky blackness and holed up beneath her Model AA Ford on an isolated plains road - dirt caked beneath her fingernails, skin flecked with blood drawn by the biting dust - she has no idea this trial won't be her toughest.
What awaits her in the small farming town of Vanham, when she begins her job as a geologist for the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, is even more daunting. Drought and over-plowing by men determined to conquer the land have turned the once-lush plains into a brutal twin of the Sahara. Headstrong and intent on healing the earth through conservation farming, RJ must somehow find her place in a tight-knit community that welcomes neither women in authority nor changes to their way of life.
She befriends Woody, an autistic savant born in an era long before any medical diagnosis would explain his peculiar ways and unique talents. The locals label the young man an idiot and RJ an armchair farmer. Yet, in each other, they see so much more.
Beating back the dust is a daily battle in a war for the land. It is a clash that creates unlikely alliances. As RJ learns she must rely on her adversaries if she is to survive the dangers of the Dust Bowl, she also grows to realize that she - like the land itself - is in desperate need of love and healing.