Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, Reviewed by Tomi Nelson

From the back of the book:                        

“Dust pile up like snow across the prairie…”

  A terrible accident has transformed Billie Jo’s life, scarring her inside out. Her mother is gone. Her father can’t talk about it. And the one thing that might make her feel better – playing the piano – is impossible with her wounded hands.

  To make matters worse, dust storms are devastating the family farm and all the farms nearby. While others flee from  the dust bowl, Billie Jo is left to find peace in the bleak landscape of Oklahoma – and in the surprising landscape of  her own heart.

Imagine feeling like your all alone in this world, or even being blamed for your own mothers tragic death. I know I can’t even begin the thought of any of that, nor taking the blame. Could you? What about the fear of being left in the darkness by the dust? No, I don’t believe anybody could unless they are left in the situation, but this is the exact idea  put into the award winning novel Out of the dust by Karen Hesse. This book tells the story of a young freckle faced girl named Billie Jo who faces these situations. There are so many things to say about this book, but I believe that the life – like tone, jaw dropping conflict and characters is what I enjoyed the most about it.

The life – like tone of this book is really what put me into it and what made me feel like I was a part of it. The author wrote it in the tine as if the reader was the main character, to me anyways. Some parts of this novels tone made me so emotional and on the edge of my seat cause of its hints of the tone was so real. One example of this on the story would be when Billie Jo is explaining the feelings while she plays the the piano at the Palace for Arley Wanderdale. It gives me the feeling of when I play my clarinet in front of a crowd of people, that took a lot of connection to get to that point to. It’s amazing how the tone of this book affects the whole point and I’m sure if anybody was to read it they would feel the same way with many parts of this novel.

The jaw dropping conflict is what really caught me and led me to keep on reading it because I wasn’t expecting it at all. The conflicts that are put up against Billie Jo are just so unbelievable; I don’t know how she got through it. One of the biggest one though is her Ma dying along with her little brother Fredrick, but what makes it worst is she is blamed for it. People ignore everything that happened except for what she did and only pointing out her mistake. With the pain of losing a mother and a brother, she’s slowly losing her father. That’s not all though, her hands are wounded from the accident and she can’t do the one thing she loves without being in pain. With this conflict and so many others like no rain for long period of times, and the dust destroying everything around it, I’m sure that any reader will love the conflict of this novel.

The characters was such a good choice for this book because I don’t think I could even think  of any different characters to put in this novel, they fit so well together. There’s Billie Jo who is a long – legged girl, with a wide mouth, and cheekbones like bicycle handles. A redheaded, freckle – faced, narrow hipped girl with a fondness for apples, and a hunger to playing fierce piano. Bayard Kelby (Billie Jo’s dad) stands tall like Billie Jo, has blondy-red hair and high cheeks rugged with wind. He is very uncommunicative, never gives up on rain, and was a dutiful husband. Mad Dog (Billie Jo’s friend) a blue eyed boy, who sings with a smooth voice with Arley Wanderdale and his band. He respects Billie Jo and didn’t see her nothing other than than the girl she was. These are the three main characters that show up the most in this story and you will love how you connect with them throughout the story.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book and when I got to the end I was wishing there was more, but there wasn’t. So to anyone who might be thinking about reading this book I really recommend it to anyone who loves a book that keeps you thinking and on the edge of your seat. I’m sure anybody who reads this book will love it from the first word to the last. Through the life – like tone, jaw dropping conflict, and the characters, Karen Hasse created the award winning novel Out of the Dust.







4 responses

  1. I thought that you did a great job with this book review. The review flowed really well, and your thesis statement (statement that describes what you are going to discuss) was very well discussed throughout your review. I think that you did a great job, with the hook and how not only you asked the question to get the reader interested, but you also answered it was a very nice way to lead a reader into your writing. You described the tone, characters, and conflict very well. I am also glad that you enjoyed the book, reading is so much better when we enjoy what we are reading. I would suggest that you read over your assignments before submitting them, because this is what helps us with typos and small grammatical errors, but overall great job!

    1. Dear ferguson169,
      I would like to thank you on pointing the positive things on my book review to me, but other than the grammatical errors, was there anything else that I might need to work on? Also pointing out that I need to read over my assignments more is something my teacher and other people that comment on my book reviews point out to me and I will start doing it more.
      Thank you sincerely,
      Tomi Nelson

  2. Tomi,

    Great work again! You gave wonderful insight into the novel as well as enough detail to leave me wanting to read the book, but not enough detail that it gave anything away. Good work because that is tricky to do! Your writing flowed wonderfully and was really enjoyable to read. Be sure to proofread for typos because there were a couple here and there. Just be sure to re-read before submitting! Also, I loved your paragraph about tone, but you never told me what the tone specifically was, only what it did for you as the reader. Be sure you let us know why the tone is and then explain why it effected you how it did. Great work and continue to keep up your great writing!

  3. Dear Elyse Boles,
    I would like to thank you again on your comment and how you state that it led you into wanting to read the book. I had the same problem on grammatical errors and really need to watch out for that and next time ill make sure I explain my topic more specifically. Also I’ll be sure to let my readers know not only what it did for me as a reader but also explain what it is.
    Thank you sincerely,
    Tomi Nelson

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