Wednesday 30 August 2023

Out of the Dust

Finished August 26
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

This teen novel, a winner of the Newberry Award, is set in Oklahoma over the course of two years, 1934 and 1935. It is a story told in poetry, free verse, and grouped by season. Each poem in the seasonal sections also has a month noted to set it in time. 
Billie Jo Kelby lives with her parents on a farm outside of their small Oklahoma town, not far from the Texas border. Amarillo is only fifty miles south of them. Billie Jo has music in common with her mother. Her father's wedding gift to her mother was a piano, and although Billie Jo plays more modern music than her mother, she is a natural, often asked to perform in public. Another young musician that Bobbie Jo considers a rival is Mad Dog Craddock. He's been called by that name long enough that she doesn't even know what his real name is. 
As the book opens, Bobbie Jo has recently learned that her mother is pregnant and she hopes this baby will come for her parents, unlike many earlier ones. 
The drought has caused many to leave for the west, including her best friend Livie. They endure weeks without rain, and dust storms that can be fatal to those caught out in them. 
Luckily, Bobbie Jo's family has a good well, and her mother has grown apple trees that she takes great pride in. 
The poems that make up this book and tell the story of her life over the course of these two years, range in topic from the weather, to neighbours, to loss, to news events (like the Dionne quintuplets) to community events. But above all, they give us Bobbie Jo's inner life, her feelings about what is happening in her life, her struggles and her joys. 
A fantastic read. 

No comments:

Post a Comment