A Fine White Dust

A Fine White Dust

4.7 4
by Cynthia Rylant

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How much do you have to give up to find yourself?

When Pete first sets eyes the Man, he's convinced he's an ax murderer. But at the revival meeting, Pete discovers that the Man is actually a savior of souls, and Pete has been waiting all his life to be saved.

It's not something Pete's parents can understand. Certainly his best friend, Rufus, an avowed


How much do you have to give up to find yourself?

When Pete first sets eyes the Man, he's convinced he's an ax murderer. But at the revival meeting, Pete discovers that the Man is actually a savior of souls, and Pete has been waiting all his life to be saved.

It's not something Pete's parents can understand. Certainly his best friend, Rufus, an avowed athiest, doesn't understand. But Pete knows he can't imagine life without the Man. So when the Man invites Pete to join him on his mission, how can Pete say no — even if it means leaving behind everything he's ever loved?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
New York Times Book Review

"Poignant and perceptive."
Booklist, starred review

"Simply but beautifully written...a tale with enough suspense to hold readers till the end."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Richly, heartbreakingly human" characters, said PW, populate this stirring Newbery Honor book about 13-year-old Pete, who yearns for religious fulfillment and seems to find it in Preacher Man, a traveling evangelist. Ages 11-13. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Naomi Milliner
Ever since he can recall, Peter has loved church—despite his parents' secretive aversion to it. As he reaches thirteen, though, Peter feels unworthy of being saved, and fears that he is headed for hell. Then, out of nowhere, enters "Preacher Man." When Peter first sees the mysterious stranger hitchhiking, he suspects the man is a murderer. When it turns out he is a traveling preacher, Peter is convinced that "he came to town just for me." Desperate to fill an inexplicable and insatiable hunger, Peter turns away from his parents and best friend, Rufus, casting them aside when Preacher Man invites him to join him on the road. But after penning a goodbye note to his mom and dad, and bidding Rufus farewell, Peter is stood up. For days he feels betrayed and abandoned; for weeks, he struggles to figure out the reason for everything that happened. In the end, the lesson he takes from it is learning to value "all the riches" he had, which—or who—are still in his life. As expected, this Newbery Honor book is another small but eloquent Cynthia Rylant gem. Despite its brevity, it's thought-provoking; despite its emphasis on church and religion, the themes of searching for meaning, and betrayal, are universal. Most of all, Peter's feelings of love and confusion are palpable. A minor quibble: The cause of his parents' disillusionment with the church never is explained.

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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From the Publisher

New York Times Book Review

Meet the Author

Cynthia Rylant is the author of more than 100 books for young people, including the beloved Henry and Mudge, Annie and Snowball, Brownie & Pearl, and Mr. Putter & Tabby series. Her novel Missing May received the Newbery Medal. She lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Visit her at CynthiaRylant.com.

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A Fine White Dust 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cynthia Rylant's compelling story, A Fine White Dust, is credible and realistic. Those foreign to the evangelical fervor of the South probably won't 'get' this book at all, which another reviewer (monkey2themax)illustrates perfectly. Pete clearly wants to follow the Preacher Man. How many teenagers haven't wanted to follow a charismatic (religious or not) person at some point? The story illustrates several key points that are of value to children and adults alike:1. Things and people aren't always what they seem; 2. Even Preachers are human and make mistakes; 3.Passing judgment doesn't help anyone; 4. People have to pick up the pieces and move on after a crisis period is over. Rylant doesn't offer a happy ending in the traditional sense, but neither does the real world in most cases. How the other reviewer (monkey2themax) could claim to be 'embarrassed' for reading this book escapes me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fine white dust : I would recommend to my friends because it is about responsibility. I would Like to read more books by Cynthia Rylant because i think she is a great author. My purpose for writing about this book is because i think its a great book.Pete was asked by the preacher man if he wanted to leave town with him. But the preacher man left with a girl named Darlene. He was crushed by the fact that the preacher did not take him he was already packed and ready to go. He had already wrote a note to his mom and pa. I really like this book and i recommend this to everyone. This book I think is actually worth reading because I read it and i really don’t read that much but this book actually caught my eye
tennis_star More than 1 year ago
A Fine White Dust by Cynthia Rylant, an excellent book, is about Peter Cassidy and his struggle with his religion and a mysterious man, and is set in a small South Carolina town. Thirteen year old Peter "Pete" Cassidy has always been very religious. However his parents almost never go to church and his best friend, Rufus, is an atheist. As time progresses Pete starts to see himself as a sinner. Everything changes when Pete goes to a revival meeting and meets a preacher who saves him from Hell and changes his life. Pete begins to trust the "Preacher Man" and tells him about himself and his life. The Preacher Man, who is a revival preacher who travels from town to town giving sermons, sees prospect in Pete to become a preacher. He invites Pete to join him in preaching in revival meetings across the country. Pete accepts the offer and the story ends with an unhappy ending. I think that Cynthia Rylant wrote this book in the steps of her other book-well written and emotional. A Fine White Dust can be a little difficult to understand and the plot is a little intense. I would recommend this book to people of the age of 13-15. I really enjoyed this book. The plot moved along quickly but not too quickly. I liked this because it keeps the reader from feeling bored. However it didn't move along too quickly that the reader got lost. Also, I liked that the characters were very life like and felt real human emotions that the reader could relate to. Even though the ending was sad and somewhat dissatisfying it helped Pete grow up and mature.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Fine White Dust is a well-written book, but I think that the author should have further developed Pete, the main character. Pete is a thirteen-year old boy that wants to be a minister, but his parents aren't religious. I liked the way that this book is so descriptive, believable, and convincing. Since Pete lives in a religious town there are a lot of troubles he will face. The pace of the book starts out slow and goes too fast at the end. If you want to read a good old fashioned book, read A Fine White Dust.