Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

Title: Out of the Dust
Author: Karen Hesse
# Of Pages: 256
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: January 1, 1997
Source: Library
Level: Young Adult
Rating: 5 Hearts


(From Goodreads)

When Billie Jo is just fourteen she must endure heart-wrenching ordeals that no child should have to face. The quiet strength she displays while dealing with unspeakable loss is as surprising as it is inspiring.

Written in free verse, this award-winning story is set in the heart of the Great Depression. It chronicles Oklahoma's staggering dust storms, and the environmental--and emotional--turmoil they leave in their path. An unforgettable tribute to hope and inner strength.

My Verdict

I’ve never had any interest in reading this book. I remember my sister reading it when we were kids but the cover was dull and old looking and I didn’t think it could possibly hold anything in it that I would enjoy. In more recent years, since my love of verse novels, many other verse lovers and authors have talked about how much they love this book, still I hesitated.

I finally decided to look past the boring/ugly cover and read it anyway. Now I can understand what all the fuss was about. Out of the Dust is a well-written, honest look at a young girl’s life during the Great Depression. Broken down by season, the story unfolds over a two-year span and is told in first person narrative by fourteen-year-old Billie Jo.

I picked up this book late one night expecting to read a few pages before bed. Those few pages turned into the whole book. Although it is a rather slow progressing plotline about a family of farmers’ day-to-day life, somehow it kept me enraptured. I think a large part of this was the writing. Hesse writes with an honest, bluntness that is raw, powerful, and emotional.

“But now,
sorrow climbs up our front steps,
big as Texas, and we didn’t even see it coming,
even though it’d been making its way straight for us
all along.

In conclusion, if there is still anyone out there who has been putting off reading this book, don’t wait any longer, read it!


  1. It's funny because I just finished reading Out of the Dust last week. (My review will be on my blog in March.) I have the same response as you did - both to the cover, and the book. After reading it, I consider it a true classic.

    1. I look forward to seeing your review Victoria! Good to know I wasn't the only one who felt that way about the cover. I consider it a true classic as well.

  2. I have never read this book. Have wanted to, but put it off for the same reasons as you. Didn't realize it was in verse. Am going to have to read it now. You've grabbed my attention. Thank you!

    1. I think you would like this one Pat. The main character Billie Jo goes through some very tough situations but remains hopeful through it all.


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