I think if I had been able to read this as a child, it would ve made an even bigger impression on me It would ve stayed in my memory and I probably would ve gone on to read Steinbeck s The Grapes of Wrath when I got older I still need to do that While the accident this family experiences is horrific, I think the image that will stay with me is the narrator and her father caught in a dust storm as they are driving to a funeral The amount of dust and how it gets into everything is staggering to think about This is the kind of thing fiction can sometimes do better than history, placing you in a world you know nothing about and causing you to feel and see what is happening around you, almost as if you were there.
Karen Hesse s Out of the Dust 1998 Newberry Medal winner is a poignant coming of age story chronicling a young woman s struggle with loss and hardship during Oklahoma s Dust Bowl Written in blank verse, its rhythm somehow matches the spare landscape and emotional toil of the protagonist It s an easy and quick read, but worthwhile 3.
5 stars rounded up.
The other day, just out of the blue, I was hit with the thought, Remember that book about the Dust Bowl you read for school ages ago, and hated with a fury You should review it and avenge your past self for being subjugated to it So that s exactly what I did.
I swear, this was me the entire book You know what s coming, folks Time for another rant with Ryan Where do I even begin I read this back when it was required reading, and I absolutely hated it This was probably the most boring book I have ever read Not to mention infinitely depressing Granted, it takes place in the Great Depression, but still No character seemed to have any personality whatsoever.
The writing style annoyed the living hell out of me.
The story dragged on and on.
And the only reason I didn t DNF this was because I needed to read it for a grade rolls eyes into the back of my head Basically just This story is so dark and gruesome that if it were put in prose and not in verse, would probably not pass the standard of the judges for the Newberry Medal Yes, this won that medal 1998 because the beautiful verses toned down the gloom and sadness that even a middle age man Asian guy like me felt while imagining what happened to the Kelby family during the Oklahoma Dust Bowl in 1934 1935 It is just too sad that even the harrowing experience of the Joad family in John Steinbeck s magnum opus, The Grapes of Wrath , can t compare Imagine you are an only child and all of you, your father and mother, are all bone and skin because of poverty you set your pregnant mum on fire and when she gave birth, she and the infant died you cannot play piano any because your hand got burned too your father has cancer and one time you found him digging his own graveAt least the Joad family, in Steinbeck 1940 novel is an extended one and the men were able to work in the farm so they left Sallisaw for California The Kelby family has no choice but to stay and wait for their death The Joad family has 2 4 healthy men unlike here where there is only the father Bayard who works alone in the farm but unfortunately gets cancer in the middle of the story At least, Rose of Sharon Joad Rivers of Grapes was healthy and her milk could feed the dying man Here, the protagonist is a 14 y o Bille Jo Kelby who s still studying and only plays a piano to help the family and she has no milk yet Okay this is a children s book so let s not go there.
But seriously, the story is bleaker than Grapes and I am glad that I read this since the latter is one of my favorites The Dust Bowl is the reverse of tsunami During the dust bowl, it is hot, dry, and dust flies around like a black storm In tsunami, it is water everywhere Both of them are harrowing, shocking and can be unimaginably furious and can fatal to hundreds of people.
Nice unforgettable read.