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The Driest Season

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  684 ratings  ·  137 reviews
As her community suffers a long season of drought, sixteen-year-old Cielle endures a more personal calamity: the unexpected death of her father. On a balmy summer afternoon, she finds him hanging in the barn—the start of a dark secret that threatens her family’s livelihood. A war rages elsewhere, while in the deceptive calm of the American heartland, Cielle’s family conten ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  684 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
A slice of life in the American heartland. Boaz Wisconsin, 1943, Cielle finds her father dead, hanging from the rafters in the barn. This discovery puts the family at risk, their farm at risk, and leads Cielle on the quest to discover exactly why her beloved father did what he did. (Not a spoiler since this discovery is part of the books summary) Although America is going to war, and will touch this family, the events of the summer take precedence, as Cielle must come to terms with a huge loss a ...more
Nov 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: give-aways
Although this isn't a genre I usually read, I did enjoy The Driest Season . This is an extremely well written short story and accurate depiction of farm life in the post Depression era. I enjoyed the relationship between the sisters and how they supported each other through all their life changes. There is grief and heartbreak, growth and challenges. The girls were supported by their grandmother to take a lot more chances than most girls at this time were allowed. The strength in their family t ...more
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cielle Jacobson, sixteen years old, lived on a one hundred acre farm in Boaz, Wisconsin. The farm, owned and settled in 1863 by her Norwegian great-grandfather, was no longer Jacobson land. During the depression, old Mr. Olsen bought land from struggling farmers and leased it back to them. In summer 1943, Cielle came home from school to find her father hanging from a beam in the barn, an apparent suicide. If she were to tell anyone, her life would instantly change. She went to a neighboring farm ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is during the summer of 1943 when Cielle, short for Lucille, comes home from summer school to her farm in Wisconsin and finds her father dead, hanging from a beam in the barn. She is only fifteen, but she has just entered adulthood in a rush.

One thing she knew from the time she was a little girl was that she wanted to be seen and known. She wanted recognition. She wanted to be noticed. She wanted to be strong.

She certainly gets her chance now.

Cielle is shy and a loner, but she was close to
♥ Sandi ❣
3.75 stars

This is a quiet little story about loss and the overcoming of emotions. Grief, loss, and the remaking of a family is seen through the eyes of a 16 year old girl, who has found her father hanging in their barn. Asking why, Cielle is looking for answers. As her life totally changes, her sister moves away, her Grandmother returns to her own home, a friend leaves for the military and her Mother narrowly misses a nervous breakdown, Cielle searches for the answer as to why things change.

Realistically portraying life in the heart of farming country in America right on the brink of entering WWII, The Driest Season tells the story of a family trying to keep it together when everything is falling apart.

16 year old Cielle is the one who finds her father, hanging from the barn rafters after his suicide. Grappling with the hows and whys and how they’re supposed to move on afterwards, she and her family are thrust into a world of secrets and how nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
Katie B
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fifteen year old Ciella life is forever changed when she walks into the barn on her family's farm in Wisonsin. She finds her father hanging from one of the beams and if word gets out he committed suicide Ciella and her sister and mother could lose their farm. This is a story of grief and growing up set in the 1940s during World War II.

The author originally wrote a short story with the same title and this is more of an expanded version of the story. Clocking in at under 200 pages it does read mor
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I so enjoyed this book set in Wisconsin during World War II. Fifteen year old Cielle is wise beyond her years and the death of her father has her questioning the secrets that are being kept, and her own place in the world. With wonderful character development, I was instantly a party to Cielle's thoughts and feelings. This is Meghan Kenny's debut, and what a wonderful debut it is. This book will be available in mid February. My thanks to Netgalley and W.W. Norton and Company for access to this b ...more
Donna Everhart
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Solid 4 of 5 stars - read my review here: ...more
Anne Marie
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting story about a young girl, growing up in a small Mid-Western town, and the changes around the world that would impact her. Both her changes and her famiy's changes.

Interesting characters and realistic story.

Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, melancholy novel. Somewhat reminiscent of Larry Watson’s fiction, putting this book in excellent company. I highly recommend this short, quiet story.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Quiet, sometimes melancholy book about the aftermath of a farmer's suicide in the 1940s. The main character is the farmer's daughter, Cielle, and she wonders how their lives will change now that her father is gone. The stigma of suicide and mental illness are touched upon. This book was based on a short story, but at less than 200 pages, it's really more of a novella.

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: debut-novels
A thoughtful story dealing with the effects of change on a teenager who is confronted with life altering changes during the summer of 1943. The world is at war, the midwestern farming community where she lives is in the middle of a drought, and Ciele finds her father, a suicide, hanging in the barn. She fumbles with the concept of moving on as she searches for bits of her father still left in her world. The writing is subtle, doesn’t so much wrench your heart as get you thinking about what slips ...more
Gina Smith
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Driest Season is a beautifully written book set in a small town in Wisconsin, 1943. The main character, almost 16 year old Cielle, comes home from summer school to find her father has killed himself in the family barn. What follows afterward is her struggle to find answers during a time when speaking about suicide was taboo. This is a coming of age story of Cielle’s personal strength, peppered with touching flashbacks of time spent with her father. At one point Cielle muses, “It seemed being ...more
Diana Mack
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
a very quiet story of a farmer who commits suicide at his farm and his 15 yr old daughter Cielle finds him.
this story doesn't have a lot of is almost a coming of age story. the suicide brings out some repercussions that cielle has to try and understand at the same time that she is experiencing her first kids, her sister leaving home and interactions with other characters during WWII.
cielle is likeable and I admired her.
read this for a break from all the "if you liked gone girl" stuff
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and the publisher was kind enough to send a second copy when the first got lost in the mail. This is a quiet and moving story about sixteen-year-old Cielle coping with and trying to make sense of her father's death in rural Wisconsin as her life changes in other profound ways - her family's property is hit by a tornado, her neighbor goes off to war and her sister heads to Madison for college. The imagery was strong and pulled me in right away. I also ...more
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another book I won on Goodreads, and I thank you. The Driest Season is the story of 15-year old Cielle Jacobsen. She finds her father hanging in the barn after he has committed suicide. It tells of how she deals with the loss, what questions she has, and how she works through her grief. The time is during World War II, and the book tells of young men leaving the town to join the war. A very interesting read.
Elizabeth Nordquest
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

I'm so happy I won this. What a great story. It's set in 1943 and read like a mid-century book. It was a slow, but the characters and setting were well developed. Kind of reminded me of Willa Cather, but maybe only because there was a farm involved.
Lindsey Z
Apr 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Gritty, sparse, emotion-centered prose about a small farming town facing draught and WWII's brutal consequences and about a teenage girl coming to terms with her father's death. Kenny captures the harsh realities of daily life in the heartland (Wisconsin) of America well. Read more like a novella than a novel. ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished The Driest Season – AWESOME, BEAUTIFUL BOOK!!!! This is a lovely short gem of a book. Ended too early, so much more to tell. This is one of those books that catches you in the first few paragraphs and you don’t want to stop reading, it is a short powerful story condensed to about 200 pages.
The story is told by Cielle, a fifteen year girl that finds her father in the barn who had hung himself as she comes home from school. It is a gut wrenching story of how she tries to find why he
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
All I can say is WOW.
I read this book twice in a row, literally. Finished the last page and then immediately flipped back to the first. Dying to read more about this story and wish it was 400 pages long instead of so short!!!
It's such a slow burn and I love books like that. So nuanced and full of emotion. So many things happening, changing, shifting, resonating -- both in Cielle's life and inside of her.
I am moving onto this author's short story collection next, although I hope she plans to wri
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
“People survive all sorts of things, and love is one of them.”

From the shocking opening scene to the expansive ending, this coming of age is an exquisitely told story. It reads like a European film: tight cast, evocative setting, short time-frame, liminal historical moment. It’s a quiet world in which everything happens. The language is spare ——dry as the season that causes a desperate farmer to end his life.

I may as well try to describe a fine wine or a perfect poem. Meghan Kenny’s book does a
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This beautifully book tells the story of Cielle (short for Lucille) Jacobson and her community. The opening chapter doesn’t pull any punches and I was immediately compelled by Cielle and her circumstances.

This short novel is not plot driven - not much happens in Boaz, Wisconsin during The Driest Season - but Cielle wrestled with deep questions. Who is she? How can people change so quickly? If she gets to decide who she’s going to be, who does she want to be? “She hoped for someone to love her f
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well-written coming of age story, set against the backdrop of a Midwestern farm at the onset of World War II. A strong sense of farm life at that time is conveyed, along with that of the sweeping beauty of the land. Grief and loss and an attempt to understand the cruelty and uncertainty of life are the challenges the young protagonist must face.
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A thoughtful coming of age story, family, neighbors, farming, loss, love, roles, sisters, war, nature, history, grief, Hope.
Polly Krize
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

1940s Wisconsin, and young Cielle finds her father has hung himself in their barn. Cielle's journey to find why he did this, and what it will do to her very existence, makes up this very sensitive and touching novel.
Liz Freeman
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Set in Wisconsin farming town during WWII. Character driven. setting is memorable--the farmland, its community struggles with weather.
Basic coming of age story done well: 15 year old Cielle struggling to make sense of her father's death, family loyalties, secrets and how she goes from loss and heartache to hope.
Catherine Broadhead
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel had me hooked from the first sentence. Another great work by Meghan Kenny.
Edwin Howard
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it
THE DRIEST SEASON by Meghan Kenny is the story of a fifteen year old girl, Cielle, who is coping with her father's death and with her own maturity and self-discovery. Cielle walks in on her father's suicidial hanging, then his death is pronounced to the world as an accidental demise. In Cielle's search for the truth and why it was hidden, she learns about hope, love, and survival.
Setting the story in the 1940's in Wisconsin provides a melancholy backdrop to a melancholy story that in the end,
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cielle is sharp and connected to the people around her, not missing a beat when investigating her father's death and observing the adults. In decisions--like driving a tractor, going away to college, etc--you also see generational differences. It is WWII and her Wisconsin community is enduring a long season of drought. Despite the personal and political upheavel, Cielle sees the world as something she will participate in: "She was not going to be quiet. She was not going to be well mannered, uns ...more
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Meghan Kenny was raised in Connecticut and New Hampshire. She received her BA in English and creative writing from Kenyon College, and her MFA in fiction from Boise State University.

She was the 2008-2009 Tickner Fellow at the Gilman School, a Bernard O'Keefe Scholar at Bread Loaf, a Peter Taylor Fellow at The Kenyon Review Writers' Workshop, and has held residencies at Vermont Studio Center and La

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