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Out of the Dust

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In a series of poems, fifteen-year-old Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family's wheat farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Depression.
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Out of the Dust

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In a series of poems, fifteen-year-old Billie Jo relates the hardships of living on her family's wheat farm in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Depression.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This intimate novel, written in stanza form, poetically conveys the heat, dust and wind of Oklahoma along with the discontent of narrator Billy Jo, a talented pianist growing up during the Depression. Unlike her father, who refuses to abandon his failing farm "He and the land have a hold on each other", Billy Jo is eager to "walk my way West/ and make myself to home in that distant place/ of green vines and promise." She wants to become a professional musician and travel across the country. But those dreams end with a tragic fire that takes her mother's life and reduces her own hands to useless, "swollen lumps." Hesse's The Music of Dolphins spare prose adroitly traces Billy Jo's journey in and out of darkness. Hesse organizes the book like entries in a diary, chronologically by season. With each meticulously arranged entry she paints a vivid picture of Billy Jo's emotions, ranging from desolation "I look at Joe and know our future is drying up/ and blowing away with the dust" to longing "I have a hunger,/ for more than food./ I have a hunger/ bigger than Joyce City" to hope the farmers, surveying their fields,/ nod their heads as/ the frail stalks revive,/ everyone, everything, grateful for this moment,/ free of the/ weight of dust". Readers may find their own feelings swaying in beat with the heroine's shifting moods as she approaches her coming-of-age and a state of self-acceptance. Ages 11-13. Oct.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a starred review of the 1998 Newbery Medal winner, set during the Depression, PW said, "This intimate novel, written in stanza form, poetically conveys the heat, dust and wind of Oklahoma. With each meticulously arranged entry Hesse paints a vivid picture of her heroine's emotions." Ages 11-13. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
This Newbery Medal winner is written as a series of free verse poems by fourteen-year-old Billie Jo who creates incredible images to keep her soul alive in the bleakness of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl during the Depression. Through her eyes we see the dust's coming "like a fired locomotive" that "hisses against the windows" and feel its textures as "my lowered face was scrubbed raw by dirt and wind. / Grit scratched my eyes, / it crunched between my teeth...." She tells of its treachery too, until it becomes almost a character in the book; a setting threatening takeover. And it might, if the character's voice and plot weren't so strong. Billie Jo writes of how she accidentally sets her mother on fire with a bucket of burning kerosene, how she fights to put out the flames, and is scarred physically and emotionally as her mother, nine months pregnant, delivers and dies in agony. "She smells like scorched meat. / Her body groaning there, / it looks nothing like my ma. / It doesn't even have a face." Billie Jo's swollen lumps of hands won't let her help her suffering mother, or play the piano, which once comforted her. The novel is harsh and ugly, strong stuff that made my eleven-year-old cry when we read it aloud. But the similes shine like jewels in dark caves, lighting the heroine, finally, to a resolution she can live with.
The ALAN Review - Ted Hipple
Set in the drought-stricken dust bowl of Oklahoma of the 30s, written in free verse, told by as memorable a heroine as you will meet in YA literature, Out of the Dust will wrench your gut. You will meet fifteen-year-old Billie Jo, not yet defeated by the Grapes of Wrath kind of poverty that grinds families to the very dust that ruins them; she is helped in her resolve by her mother. But then in a bizarre accident, one Billie Jo played an innocent but deadly part in, her mother is killed. Her father cannot cope, and Billie Jo is left with just her own personal resources. These, however, are considerable. Please read this book. You will agree with me (and with the committee which selected it for the 1997 Newbery Medal) that it is a distinguished novel, richly meriting as wide a readership as possible among teens, among adults. It is very good.
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
It's 1934 in the Oklahoma Panhandle and fourteen-year-old Billie Jo must face the devastation of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Told in a very convincing, first person, poetic style, the listener comes to feel great empathy and admiration for Billie Jo's indomitable spirit. The audiotape version of this Newbery novel is especially well done and the skilled narrator really helps bring this striking free-verse novel to life. It makes for a riveting listening experience for older children, teens and adults. (Two audiocassettes).
Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
The always-inventive author of A Time of Angels has done it again. She's found a new approach to telling a compelling historical tale. In this "novel" she renders the story of a young girl struggling to survive the dust bowl through first person narrative poems. Young Billie Jo tells her story in a series of thoughtful and touching poems as she tries to come to terms with the horrific death of her mother, the loss of her talent to play the piano, and the threat of losing her father to long cancer. In this testament to the strength of one girl's will, Hesse takes a poetic turn at telling the story of the Oklahoma dust bowl during the Great Depression.
VOYA - Sarah K. Herz
Fourteen-year-old Billie Jo Kelby's story begins in the winter of 1934 in the Oklahoma Panhandle. In a series of evocative, free verse poems, Billie Jo helps us understand important moments and personal experiences within her family and community. Her poetic images and precise details reveal a community of caring people who share economic hardships with quiet dignity. Her love and respect for her Ma and Daddy are evident as she describes their determination to continue despite the dust storms and drought destroying Daddy's wheat crop and Ma's garden. Though the dust invades every crevice of their lives, they ignore it-setting the table with plates and glasses upside down, cleaning the piano keys so she and her Ma can enjoy their music, sweeping the dust aside. She adores her pregnant Ma, so thin and scrawny, and heeds her rules about chores and homework. Billie Jo's life is shattered in the summer of 1934 when Ma and the baby die in a kitchen fire. She and her father bottle their grief inside themselves. Billi Jo becomes an outsider in her community, as she focuses on death and destruction around her-cows are shot, chickens are suffocated. Her grief and the dust are intertwined. In telling her story, Billie Jo learns about courage, truth, and sorrow; and, by the end of her story in the autumn of 1935, she learns that her anger at the dust storms that have torn at her heart and soul also have strengthened her spirit and will to survive. Billie Jo and Daddy realize they must continue as a family and that they have to forgive themselves. The dust storms, the drought, and the Depression cannot destroy what grows in the heart. This novel celebrates the tenacity of the human spirit. Teenagers can identify with Billie Jo's feelings and problems; they will enjoy reading and discussing the poems season by season as Billie Jo's story unfolds. The book could be used as a complement to a social studies unit about the Depression or read aloud before a study of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, or used as a model for a poetry writing unit. A thoughtful and provocative book for classrooms and libraries. Editor's Note: Out of the Dust is the recipient of the 1998 Newbery Medal and among 1998's ten Best of the Best Books for Young Adults VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
The ALAN Review - Cawood Cornelius
Billie Jo, the 14 year old narrator, uses free verse poems to describe her life from the winter of 1934 to the winter of 1935. The dust bowl era of rural Oklahoma is aptly described while the story develops. Billie Jo, an only child, is an aspiring pianist, while her father and mother struggle to keep the farm going during the dust bowl and Great Depression. Her father leaves a bucket of kerosene next to the stove and her mother, thinking its water, starts a fire. Billie Jo, in an attempt to be helpful, throws the burning bucket out the door. Her mother is drenched in the burning liquid as she starts back in the door after running to get her husband. Mother and her unborn child both die after much suffering. Billie Jo's hands are disfigured in the accident. Billie Jo struggles to help her father and herself overcome this tragedy. Finally, after running away, she realizes that she must face her reality. Out of the Dust is a Newbery Medal Book, as well as the recipient of numerous other awards. It is written in very readable verse arranged chronologically in short poems. It would be an excellent addition to a reading list for social studies or language arts. The teacher's edition discussion and study guide is well organized and includes an interview with the author, as well as activities for a thematic unit across the curriculum.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Fourteen-year-old Billie Jo's life is defined by struggle both physical and emotional. She struggles to forgive her father for causing the accident that killed her mother. She fights a daily battle to survive during the worst days of the Oklahoma dust storms. And she strives to heal her body and her soul when severe burns leave her disfigured and unable to play the music she loves. Set during the time of the Great Depression and written in free verse, Karen Hesse's spare but powerful work (Scholastic, 1997) captures every nuance of Billie Jo's emotions, from heartwrenching sadness at the death of her mother and newborn brother to the challenge of rebuilding a relationship with her embittered father. Read with disarming simplicity and straightforwardness by Marika Mashburn, an Oklahoma native, the titled and dated entries span the course of a year during which Billie Jo's reflections lead her to draw on qualities she never knew she possessed. Powerful and moving, this 1998 Newbery Medal winner is a recommended purchase for all school and public libraries.-Cindy Lombardo, Orrville Public Library, OH
School Library Journal
Gr 5 UpIn the midst of the Dust Bowl, 13-year-old Billie Jo loses her mother and unborn brother in an accident that she is partly responsible for and burns her own hands so badly that she may never again find solace in her only pleasureplaying the piano. Growing ever more distant from her brooding father, she hops on a train going west, and discovers that there is no escaping the dust of her Oklahoma homeshe is part of it and it is part of her. Hesse uses free-verse poems to advance the plot, allowing the narrator to speak for herself much more eloquently than would be possible in standard prose. The author's astute and careful descriptions of life during the dust storms of the 1930s are grounded in harsh reality, yet are decidedly poetic; they will fascinate as well as horrify today's readers. Hesse deals with questions of loss, forgiveness, home, and even ecology by exposing and exploring Billie Jo's feelings of pain, longing, and occasional joy. Readers may at first balk at a work of fiction written as poetry, but the language, imagery, and rhythms are so immediate that after only a few pages it will seem natural to have the story related in verse. This book is a wonderful choice for classrooms involved in journal-writing assignments, since the poems often read like diary entries. It could also be performed effectively as readers' theater. Hesse's ever-growing skill as a writer willing to take chances with her form shines through superbly in her ability to take historical facts and weave them into the fictional story of a character young people will readily embrace.Carrie Schadle, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Billie Jo tells of her life in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl: Her mother dies after a gruesome accident caused by her father's leaving a bucket of kerosene near the stove; Billie Jo is partially responsible—fully responsible in the eyes of the community—and sustains injuries that seem to bring to a halt her dreams of playing the piano. Finding a way through her grief is not made easier by her taciturn father, who went on a drinking binge while Billie Joe's mother, not yet dead, begged for water. Told in free-verse poetry of dated entries that span the winter of 1934 to the winter of 1935, this is an unremittingly bleak portrait of one corner of Depression-era life. In Billie Jo, the only character who comes to life, Hesse (The Music of Dolphins, 1996, etc.) presents a hale and determined heroine who confronts unrelenting misery and begins to transcend it. The poem/novel ends with only a trace of hope; there are no pat endings, but a glimpse of beauty wrought from brutal reality.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807280508
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/2000
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 2 cassettes, 2 hrs. 10 min.
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.38 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Hesse is the author of some fifteen books for children, and was recently awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" for her contribution to the literature of children and young adults. Her many novels have garnered considerable success, including the Sydney Taylor Award, the IRA/YA Award, 5 Notable Books for Children, 4 Best Books for Young Adults, and the Newbery Medal in 1998. Hesse has spent many years promotion her books to the school market, and is well-known in classrooms throughout the country. She and her husband, Randy, live in Brattleboro, Vermont.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 365 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 365 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2009

    The Book out of the dust

    Out of the Dust is about a young girl named Billie Jo. She lives on the dry flat lands of Oklahoma with her mother and father. Her mother dies giving birth to what would have been her first sibling. Unfortunatly her new born baby brother dies also. What is wost is that the only thing to calm her done is to play the piano which she can't do because her hands are burnt. Her father does not talk to her any more and she can't get over her mother dieing. so she leaves her dad in the middle of the night to catch a trian. But after a few days she calls he dad and tells him were she is and that she is coming home on the next train. After that they were like a family again and there wheat started growing. Billie Jo ends up going to the doctor and her gives her medicine so she can use her hands again.<BR/><BR/> I would give this book 5 stars. I like it because you can really tell what the charectors are saying doing and feeling. It isn't a fairy tale or somthing like that it tells what happens in real life today. I feel like I am in the blazzing sun of running away with Billie Jo. I loved this book but make sure you have4 a box of tissues by your side.

    11 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2010

    Out of the Dust

    Out of the Dust

    This is a very touching story written in all poetry. It features a lot of metaphors, like comparing her piano to her mother. I think this book is appropriate for ages 10-13 because you can relate to the characters better at that age. My favorite poem is "On Stage" on page 13 because I play piano and I know how it feels to be on stage. Some parts were boring, but overall I thought it was a good book.

    10 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2008

    this is an awesome book

    What I am going to talk about is how the book out of the dust. I am going to tell how Billie Jo life changes after her mom passes away after giving birth to her baby brother who dies after being born. I am also going to tell you how Billie Jo and her father try to overcome the great depression and the dust bowl. Then tell you how her life was when her mother got pregnant. I am also going to tell you the theme of this book. <BR/><BR/>In the story Billie Jo is a hard working girl like her mother. They work all day to keep the dust out of their home. Her mother is pregnant so that makes her work harder to do the stuff she can¿t. When her father finds out he prays for a boy to help him with the wheat. Billie is excited to get a new brother or sister. She covered the house with plastic to keep the dust off the beds and the living room furniture. During the night and covered the beds during the day. While her mom was pregnant Billie¿s father brought gas into the house for the stove while he was eating breakfast the gas spilled and burned Billie¿s hands bad and burned her mother too. The next week her mom went into the labor then the doctor sent Billie out of the room to get some water, then when she returned her mother and her brother where dead. Later that day her father buried her mom and her brother. They named him Franklin like her mom wanted. After that day her mom passed away Billie and her father barely made eye contact. He was busy with the wheat and she was busy with the house, and Billie Made breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was miserable with the dust Billie had to do cover the house to protect it from the dust. <BR/><BR/>The theme of this book is ¿always expect the unexpected.¿ I chose this as the theme because Billie and her father thought they were going to be a happy family of a new baby but they weren¿t. Then the wheat started to grow when everyone thought it would stay dead and not grow anymore. When Billie thought her mother was haunted her when it was all in her head. Then Billie thought that maddog didn¿t like her and that he hated her. <BR/>My conclusion is that I loved the book because it was heartwarming, sad, and so cool. I loved it because it talks about the past and I love reading books about the past. I loved the way Billie played the piano she was really good; I liked her better than her mama. I thought it was sad when her mother and her brother died. This book gets two thumbs up.

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    Loved the book!

    I think this is a great book and it should be read by Middle School Students because it tells the story of an often forgotten part of United States history from the perspective of a child. I liked the way it was written also, almost like there was dust everywhere during the writing because the author writes as if she doesn't have a lot of time ot elaborate on details due to the situation around her yet she still conveys the message.

    Good, easy read.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2009

    Book title and author: Out of the Dust by: Karen Hesse Title of review: Out of the Dust Number of stars (1 to 5):5

    This book is about a 14 year old girl named Billy Jo who lives in Oklahoma where dust has no end. When she loses her mother and her unborn baby brother, she has to get through her life with just her father and her mothers piano.Billy Jo and her family live in Oklahoma where dust is a word that has no end. A tragic thing happens when her mother and her unborn baby brother get burned to death. Billy Jo tries to put out the fire but she ends up losing her hands and the one thing that she loves dearest, playing the piano. She struggles through life with nothing but her father, who doesn't have much to say since the death of his wife, and the fact that nothing is going right because nothing will grow in their farm, the animals are dying, and they have no money. Then her father falls in live with a young lady, named Louise, who is a very intelligent person. She changes the life of Billy Jo and her father by helping them find their true place in this world, Billy Jo at the piano and her father in Louise's heart.Billy Jo finds that she can still play the piano as long as she practices a lot and makes sure she works her hands. Her father falls in love with Louise and they end up living together.I thought that this book was one of the best and most heart felt stories I have ever read. It contained a lot of detail and it made you feel like you were in the story. I advise anyone who has the chance to read this book. You will never be able to put it down.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Sad, but true

    I read this book for school, and i have to say i balled at some parts. At the end of the book, i knew hat it was like to live during the dust bowl, and i understoodwhat happened much morr than before. My respect to the people who survived grew, and i now know that life was hard on everyone. This is a great book that everyone should read. It is well writtrn it makes you feel as if you were billie joe. Remarkable, sensational, with as many twists as a roller coaster. Great for all ages.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2008

    A Waste of Paper and Ink

    Aside from the horrible (it's a hard knock life) Clich'e, this book can do no more than make a bad day worse. To start out the entire story is written as a free verse poem...if that wasent bad enough! the story is ultimatly depressing in its own right. The mom dies, the brother dies, the friends die, the main characters hads get fried, the dad might have cancer, I think reliving the black plauge would be more joyful! Yes, this won the Newberry award but just because it won an award, does not mean in any sense that this is a good book. Some may dissagree but if you ask me a group of people deciding what is good and whats not does not seem to be very reliable, but thats just me! I hate this book and I can not express enough how much I feel about this. Like the title says it is a waste of ink and paper. If you are for some reason forced to read this, just kill yourself...You would be better off anyway!

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2005

    Okay and confusing

    When i first heard we we're assigned this book for summer reading i thought it would be very boring. As i started reading it, however it was pretty good. The only thing i don't like about this book is that it's pretty hard to understand because of the way it was written. In every entry it like talked about sumthing else.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2014

    I gave Out of the Dust a 0/16 because it was BORING! It ran on t

    I gave Out of the Dust a 0/16 because it was BORING! It ran on too long. There was to many details to keep up with. For example the middle was had so many details and no action. The ending was horrible! It was long and boring. In my opinion The book was terrible. DONT READ THIS BOOK!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    I gave this book a 3/5 because the plot is sometimes slow. Howe

    I gave this book a 3/5 because the plot is sometimes slow. However, I really liked the characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014


    Out of the dust is a book about a young child in Oklahoma during the dust bowl. The child is not happy with her life and she just wants to get out of the dust (hints the name). I would give this book a 4/5 rating of family freindlyness because some smaller children may not exactly understand the plot... I would personaly recomend this to 5th-10th grades.
    Thank you for your time!;)
    (See my post on 'the boy in the striped pajamas)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    Out of the Dust

    It is a great book. I think it is appropriate to read to your kids or even as a teacher. Your kids or pupils should at least be 9+. Just cause they may not know some words. But it does have good description and is totally worth buying!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    Sad sad sad

    Hey now this can make you cry in all but heres a little somthing if your mother was pregnat and then was on fire would ball your eyes out like some people do? Well i would have to say i would probley cry too. I cant stand a chance when books can be like this. I havent finished the book yet so nobody tells me what happens alright... cant wait to finish the book! Well to bad baby Frainkelin died boo who...

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Great book, but...

    I thouht it was really sad and gruesome.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013


    LOVE IT!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2013

    "Out of the Dust" is a fictional account of one girl's

    &quot;Out of the Dust&quot; is a fictional account of one girl's life in Oklahoma, during the hardships of the great Dust Bowl. Billie Jo's story is written through her own eyes, in the form of freestyle poetry.
    This book is unique in it's own way. It somewhat reminds me of fictional books that are written in diary form, yet this book is still very different than even that.

    The storyline:
    There's one thing that Billie Jo really loves in life. It's playing the piano. Feeling the keys underneath her fingers. It seems to take her away from the grimy dirt, the dust in her eyes, and the sand dunes that daily pile up higher.

    Neighbors give up on their farms. Dear friends move away, in search of a better place to live. A devastating accident takes it's course in Billie Jo's own family. She blames everything on the dust storms. They have ruined her life.

    The only thing she wants to do now, is to sweep all the dust out of her heart permanently.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    My True Opinion

    My English teacher is making me read this, and at the beginning, I must say... it was a bit boring. Then, the ACCIDENT came, and I was so involved in the book... the book that once made me struggle, is now the most touching book I have ever read. Simply beautiful!

    What I'm saying to those hesitating to buy it, do it. Click the "Buy" button. Don't count on the Free Sample. If you're uninterested in the beginning, keep reading... you won't be dissapointed. Hope you like!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2012

    Out oof the Dust

    I really enjoyed reafing this book. At sime pointss of the story it is hard to put down. If you are some what of a picky reader (i know i am) this is a book you should try reading.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2012

    Out of the dust

    Worth reading my teacher recomended it to me and i loved it. It was sad and depressing but it was a great book i hope you read it. I recomend it for people10 and up

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 11, 2012

    Fourteen-year-old Billie Jo Kelby lives with her Pa, Bayard Kelb

    Fourteen-year-old Billie Jo Kelby lives with her Pa, Bayard Kelby, and her Ma Polly, who is going to have a baby, near Joyce City in the Oklahoma panhandle during the dust bowl days of the Great Depression. Born in August of 1920, she begins her diary, written in free verse, in January of 1934 and covers the next two years of her life with a chronicle of her family’s dreary existence including both her tragedies and triumphs. Her best friend Livie Killian moves with her family to California. The Kelby farm is failing, and all Billie Jo wants to do is to escape the dust that envelopes her. However, her Pa is determined to stick it out. Then a terrible accident transforms both her family and her life. But the one thing that might make things more bearable, playing the piano, seems impossible with her now scarred hands. How will she cope with all her difficulties?

    Author Karen Hesse bases the picture drawn in this book, which won the 1998 Newbery Medal, on true stories which she read in an Oklahoma newspaper, the 1934 Boise City News. In her Newbery Acceptance Speech, Hesse said that the story “was about forgiveness.” I found it interesting and informative, but the two biggest complaints which I have heard about the book are that it is boring and that it is depressing. I can understand how children who want only bang-bang, shoot-‘em-up action books would find a simple account like this to be “boring,” but then “boring,” like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. And yes, it is a bit “depressing,” but then it is set in the “Depression,” and there is a reason why this era was given that name. Out of the Dust does an excellent job of helping the reader to gain insight into the absolute poverty which many people of that day experienced. At the same time, I would not recommend it to a child who is actually dealing with the problem of depression.

    Other than a couple of common euphemisms (i.e., “darn” and “heck”), there is no cursing or profanity. After the accident, Pa did take Ma’s money to go out and get drunk, although he did not continue doing that, and one scene about making moonshine occurs, along with some references to dancing. Some sensitive youngsters may shrink from the description of “Grown men clubbing bunnies to death.” And one day when it does rain, Billie Jo sees her pregnant mom out behind the barn “bare as a pear.” Before anyone writes in to complain about my mentioning these things, I’m not saying that they make the book bad or that people shouldn’t read it because of them. It’s just that some parents want to know about such things ahead of time so that they can be prepared to discuss them with their children. The free verse used in the book is certainly different, but the sparseness of language emphasizes the sense of despair, yet with an underlying feeling of hope. My suggestion, especially for those who don’t care for poetry, is to forget about trying to follow the free verse and just read the story as prose. That worked for me!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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