Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

1998 Newbery Winner

The dust bowl is hard for Billie Jo and her family, but they still have each other, and Billie Jo can lose herself by playing the piano. Then an accident occurs, and everything changes. Bereft of so many things important to her, Billie Jo struggles to deal with the circumstances she finds herself in.

The word that comes to mind when I think of this book is “raw”.

I don’t mean like unpolished, or any of that stuff. I mean, it almost hurts to read it. None of the words are wasted, and as such, they pack a powerful enough punch to knock you down. The emotions aren’t excessive, but they’re so undiluted that they sort of take your breath away.

I’m slightly allergic to books written free verse. After all, why write a book with all those funny little lines when you could just put them in perfectly nice paragraphs? Much more organized. I won’t say that this book won me over to free verse, but I will say that I don’t think this book would have been nearly as good had it not been written in free verse. So if you, like me, are a little worried about the format of this book, I would give it a try anyway. I think most would like it.

(By the way, this is my first post here. Hi everyone!)


Sandy D. said...

Raw is a very word to describe this. I didn't expect it to punch me like that, which made it all the more shocking.

RM1(SS) (ret) said...

I liked both the story and the characters, and if Hesse had written this as a straight novel it would probably be in my list of the Top Ten Newbery Medal Books. As it is, it's my absolute least favourite of the 86 I've read.