Becky's Review of Out of the Dust

Hesse, Karen. 1997. Out of the Dust.

Out of the Dust is a Newbery winner. And honestly I can't believe I missed this one. I'm just now getting to it. (Though I don't think I would have been as ready for it then as I am now.) Set in the 1930s, the novel focuses on a family living in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl during the Depression. To say things are a bit bleak would be an understatement. Our heroine, Billie Jo, has many hopes and dreams, but the lack of rain, the lack of crops, the lack of money do have a way of weighing the family down--Billie Jo included. Her mother is pregnant. And her father is always busy working on the farm. Billie Jo's biggest dreams revolve around the piano. She loves to play the piano. She loves to make music. It's a part of who she is; it's a part of her soul. But when tragedy strikes, Billie Jo's dreams get buried in despair. Will things ever get better? Will she ever find the courage and strength and will to play again?

Life. Love. Hope. Disappointment. Anger. Grief. Despair. Loneliness. Guilt. Families. Forgiveness. Grace. Peace. It's all here. The story is definitely one that resonates. But I would be lying if I said it was an easy read. The tragedy is a tragedy. And it changes everything in her life forever.