Told in free verse in the spare and haunting voice of 14-year-old Billie Jo Kelby, Out of the Dust is a journey to the heart of a family caught in the Oklahoma dust-bowl. It is the story of Ma, who sees the idea of herself burn away with every parched day, until she herself is consumed by fire. It is the story of Bayard, her husband, who cannot ...
Told in free verse in the spare and haunting voice of 14-year-old Billie Jo Kelby, Out of the Dust is a journey to the heart of a family caught in the Oklahoma dust-bowl. It is the story of Ma, who sees the idea of herself burn away with every parched day, until she herself is consumed by fire. It is the story of Bayard, her husband, who cannot comes to terms with his failure to provide for his family. But most of all, it is the story of Billie Jo who knows she must find a way to get out of the dust, even if it means leaving behind everything she has ever loved.
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this book should be in every school and should be read by students and teachers
May 25, 2010
Dust Bowl Times
"Out of the Dust" 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.
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.
Dec 31, 2009
Written in the first person point of view, we learn about how the main character is able to not only survive during the Dust Bowl, but comes out a better person. A historical fiction book that depicts what it was really like in Oklahoma. An easy read for 6th grade students.
Aug 4, 2008
The school I was subbing for used this book as part of their study on the era of history discribed in the book. The students enjoyed the book and had good discussions
Sep 30, 2007
Embrace the Light
Told by Karen Hesse with freedom and resonance, Out of the Dust allows the reader a view through the eyes of a child. Billy Jo, who is but 14 years old and struggling between the everyday mystical transition of adolescence and the reality of survival during the Depression era dust-bowl. A time in United States history when children were often thrust into appalling situations and compelled to make decisive measures regarding life choices. Hesse's writing style balances both the tragedy and triumph of the human spirit in such a way as to offer a multifacited opportunity for teachers and students as they transition from elementary reading to various forms of classic American literature.
Publishers Weekly, 1997-08-25 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, 1999-01-11 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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