Dry ground

I have just finished Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.  I’ve decided D is the letter of choice to describe the difficult, dry life of a teenage daughter hanging on for dear life in Joyce City, Oklahoma, during the devastating Dust Bowl period of the 1930s.  If history was always introduced using fiction like this, we might have more history majors.

In addition to the Great Depression, the folks in Billie Jo’s region deal with severe drought and ever-present dust.  Not dust settling on your dresser over a week, but death-bringing dust that collects on dishes between setting them down and adding the dinner, chokes animals and crops, darkens the sky and the future, and ushers in economic and emotional depression.

He wanted a boy….He got a redheaded, freckle-faced, narrow-hipped girl with a fondness for apples and a hunger for playing fierce piano.

When disaster strikes, Billie Jo and her dad must deal with their very strained relationship.  Hope, in the form of rain and pianos, is elusive, and bitterness looms large.

The way I see it, hard times aren’t only about money, or drought, or dust. Hard times are about losing spirit, and hope, and what happens when dreams dry up.

All of this is delivered in a first-person, free verse format that beautifully captures Billie Jo’s dreams, devastation, daring – and ultimately, her deliverance.

Most people reading it may never truly understand the difficulty of living during this period.  It may help add perspective to lives where there is very little real hardship.

 

 

Copyright © Gienah Beaty, bookshelfbriefs.wordpress.com, 2016.  All rights reserved.  (Public Domain image courtesy of pixabay.com)

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