Hesse, K. (1998). Out of the dust: A novel. Unabridged audio production. NY: Random House Inc. Listening Library.
LS5385: YA Lit / Historical Fiction - is there Historical Realistic Fiction?
To start, the instructor for my class said at some point we should "read" a book in a format other than good ol' print format. I don't have an iPad, and I don't want to read on my computer, and my iPod screen is toast, so if I downloaded an audio book to it, I would never be able to find it to listen. Alas, I listened to this book on CD, sometimes in the car, and ha! sometimes on my computer as I was working on other stuff. The book was written in free verse and in small chunks, so I thought it would be manageable on CD. (and only about 2 1/2 hours running time.)
Thoughts – the dust! the dust. the dust. the never ending dust. And the dire, hopeless circumstances they were in – the despair. The perseverance of the parents to make it work. The dreams of the main character, Billie Jo, to know the wider world. It reminded me very much of the book The Worst Hard Times. (highly recommend) I just don't know how anyone living in the Dust Bowl stuck it out and lived through it.
The few symbols of hope – the piano, the apples, the snow, the baby- all were shattered in one way or another by the dust storms, torrential rain, grasshoppers, or awful twists of fate.
The imagery in the things this young girl said was incredible. One example:
“My father stares out across his land, empty but for a few withered stalks, like the tufts of hair on an old man’s head.” Chapter 6 “Birthday” August, 1934.
The story did manage to end on a somewhat uplifting note, though it wasn't Pollyanna-ish. The dust still came, the families still struggled, the crops still suffered; however, there was a hint of hope and healing, and that was enough to finish it well.
It really does make you shake your head in disbelief at what we (man/society/government)did to the land to create the situation. So many people suffered and died, and it just didn't have to be that way. A lesson we can still learn from in modern times.
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