Out of the Dust

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Out of the Dust
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Genre(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
January 01, 1999
ISBN
978-0590371254
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This gripping story, written in sparse first-person, free-verse poems, is the compelling tale of Billie Jo's struggle to survive during the dust bowl years of the Depression. With stoic courage, she learns to cope with the loss of her mother and her grieving father's slow deterioration. There is hope at the end when Billie Jo's badly burned hands are healed, and she is able to play her beloved piano again. The 1998 Newbery Medal winner.

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Beautifully Sad
Overall rating
 
5.0
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5.0
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N/A
Learning Value
 
5.0
I want to teach this book so that I know that people are reading it. I've avoided OUT OF THE DUST for awhile, mostly because of the boring cover (I'm that girl) and that it won the Newbery Medal in 1998 and I don't usually love Newbery winners (I'm that girl, too.) When I started researching novels in verse, Karen Hesse's classic kept coming up. I tried it out and am so glad I did. OUT OF THE DUST sticks with you.

Billie Jo Kelby and her family live in Oklahoma during the dust bowl years of the Great Depression. People are starving, farms are folding, and many are fleeing west to escape the poverty of the Dust Bowl. After three years without a strong crop, the Kelby's economic situation continues to deteriorate. When a horrific tragedy strikes (I gasped. Anyone who has read this book knows the scene I am talking about.), they are emotionally and physically destroyed.

Grit is the word that comes to mind. Billie Jo has the grit to continue on after her world has been shattered. Her bravery and resilience are moving; I wanted to scoop her up and comfort her. Grit also has a literal meaning in the novel, with dust infiltrating every aspect of their lives. I never thought about having to keep glasses and dishes turned over while setting the table, nor what it was like for students to take a test in a dust storm. Hesse's imagery works the dust into the reader's mind until they, like Billie Jo, just want to escape to a cleaner, happier place.

Out of the Dust is impossibly sad, which is why the free verse format works so well. The reader is able to move through the book at a quick enough pace that the events aren't too depressing. Plus, the spare writing is a perfect fit for the setting, flowery prose just wouldn't work on an Oklahoma farm where there are never enough hours in a day.

Billie Jo's story will remain with me and has given my understanding of the Great Depression a new, more personal, dimension.
Good Points
Beautifully written
Sad in the best possible way
A surprising ending
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Not so dusty
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4.0
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4.0
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0.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Fallon Burger

Billie-Joe is an average girl who lives in Oklahoma at the time of 1935;during the dust bowl.She loves to play feirce piano.A terrble incident has happened where she has lost her mother and her hands to a terrible mix up of kerosene and water.She wishes she could just get away from it all, away from her past and the dust,but most of all away form her father.So she goes on the next train which is heading west.Will she get to play the piano with her hands like that?Will she ever go back to Oklahoma?Will she ever forgive her father for putting the kerosene next to the stove,which results her mothers death?Find out in Out of the Dust!
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Out of the Dust is great
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5.0
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5.0
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0.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Jacqueline

Out of the Dust is a book about a girl who is living through the Dust Bowl which is during the Great Depression. In the beginning, she accidentally pours gasoline (thinking it is water) on a fire and causes her mom and little brother to die. She also has painful burns on herself. The story is how she survives and forgives herself and her dad. It is written in beautiful poetry.
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This book.......
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4.0
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4.0
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0.0
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Reader reviewed by katie

This book is really sad. I like how it is written in verses and how realistic it is. I am glad that I was not living in those times and I feel bad for the people who died then.

I think it was so sad that the mom and Franklin died and almost was her fault. And her dad was so mean but at the end he was nice.

This is a must reader! So go out and buy it right now! Also it is an easy reader so if you are reluctant to read this is still a good book!
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Dust that never goes away
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4.0
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4.0
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Reader reviewed by SweetxApple

When I was given this book last year for English to read, I was like, (sarcastically) "Oh boy. Another woe is me story!" But this book isn't like that at all. it gives us an indepth idea of what it was like during the Depression in the Dust Bowl. It is historically accurate. And like my title says this story will never leave me. Instead of being so cliche and all about the whole damsel in distress, we see this girl instead trying to live. To live with her guilt, to live with the loss of her mother, and the fact that her father barely stands to look at her. I think that everyone should read this book, because it took me by surprise.
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dust
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3.0
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3.0
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0.0
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Reader reviewed by swim freak

karen hesse made very good use of poetry. she put a lot of meaning into so few words. out of the dust was about a young girl that lived during the dust bowl and wanted out.
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i thought this book was great
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4.0
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4.0
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Reader reviewed by Robbino678

i thought this book was really good.. i read it in 5th grade..but i member it was great. its still stuck w/me for 4 years..i was really sad too but tit was great .. and i thoguht it was awesmoe how she put all the poetry together to make a story.. luved it! u should really read thsi book.
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depressing
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Reader reviewed by artemis

This book was okay, but it was too depressing for me. It was not enjoyable at all. The poem format didn't really work and was very confusing. Even the happy ending, which you never thought would occur, seems more of an afterthought--like the author tacked it on there for good measure. Billie Jo does go through a lot and how her father ignores her, steals the family money to go drinking and has a hand in her mother's death is sad. It's not an uplifting story and it's not very memorable. It's not for kids either. If you want to read an insightful story that won't make you sad or depressed, look somewhere else.
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i love this book
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5.0
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5.0
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0.0
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Reader reviewed by stellargurl

this is a really great book. its about this girl named billy-joe. the reason she got that name was because her father named her that cause he wanted a boy but got a girl instead. in the beggining of the book eveything is fine. in the middle billy-joe's mom gets pragnant with a baby boy and the father is really happy and excited. the mom delivers the boy and everything works out great and is fine. then one day bad things starts happening to them and some is lost. read this great book to find out what happens. i would recomen it to any 5graders cuz that the grade i was in when my teacher read it to us.
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Praise For Karen Hesse's Out Of The Dust
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4.0
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4.0
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Reader reviewed by Holly

Out Of The Dust has not only won a Newbery Medal, but has also won a Scott O'Dell Award, ALA Best Book For Young Adults, and so many more. I believe that this book truly deserves all of these awards. It is written wonderfully, and now to the point.

Billie Jo's life is changing right in front of her. This is scarring her inside and out. Her mother is gone. Her father can't talk about it. She loves to play the piano but is unable because of her wounded hands. And even worse, dust storms are devastating the family farm and all the farms nearby.

I encourage you all to experience this epic journey of love, strenght and courage.
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Great Page Turner for teens and pre-teens
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5.0
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5.0
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0.0
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0.0
Reader reviewed by Joey S.

I give Karen Hesse two thumbs up for this book! I loved this story. Very exciting and some sad parts. GREAT READER, I DEFINITELY RECOMMEND!! read it as SOON as possible! told in a very eye catching way. LOVED it!
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