I liked this a lot until the ending, which I felt was weak. Tessa Riley, an unusually small child, is scorned by her family (farmers and she is too small to help in the fields and around the house) and others. Mysterious Mary comes to town as a new librarian and sparks something in Tessa (and most people in the town). Tess seeks refuge at the library, working for Mary, who teaches her to read and tells her stories of the circus and the world. Tessa's father begins to abuse her sexually as she blooms. Tessa does not notice Mary's growing depression. Mary eventually drowns herself in the river, and Tessa runs away from home at age 16. After a stint in factories, living in a boarding house, Tessa finds her way to the circus, where she finds her new life. Eventually she becomes a performer, marries a fellow circus performer and has a comfortable life. Her sister comes to visit her, and she discovers that her father is dead, her sister had also been abused, but made a life for herself outside of Oakley also. Still, Tessa is haunted by Mary's past life in Rain Village, before she came to the circus and the library. When Mary's nephew Kostas comes looking for her on his way to Rain Village, Tessa decides to join him. What she finds in Rain Village is somewhat vague and inconclusive, but she decides that her life is really with Mauro her husband and the circus and she resolves to go back. The ending lacks a lot of closure.But the story is a good read 2/3 of the way through.