For Crisis/Emergency Services 24/7
North County: 360-942-2303
South County: 360-642-3787
1-800-884-2298



Timberlands Regional Support Network


powered by centersite dot net
Family & Relationship Issues
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersVideosLinksBook Reviews
12 and HoldingA Lethal InheritanceA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA Stir of BonesAlone TogetherAlways On CallAngelsArtemis FowlBad Girls ClubBecoming AnnaBeing the Other OneBoys Will Put You on a Pedestal (So They Can Look Up Your Skirt)Breaking PointCaring for a Child with AutismCaring in Remembered WaysClawsCloserCrispinDaughter of the Queen of ShebaDirty DetailsDivorce PoisonEmpress of the WorldEpilepticEvery Visible ThingFamily FirstFamily TherapyFour CornersFrictionGandhi's WayGeorgia Under WaterGetting over Getting MadGetting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionHappiness Sold SeparatelyHope's BoyHow Families Still MatterHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tI Don't Know How She Does ItI Only Say This Because I Love YouImagining RobertInside the American CoupleIt's Love We Don't UnderstandJakarta MissingJumping the ScratchLast Chance SaloonLife's WorkLive Through ThisLove SickLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderMad HouseMaking Babies, Making FamiliesMaking Sense of SuicideMaking the RunMaking the RunMom's OK, She Just ForgetsMy HeartbeatNecessary NoiseNotes on a ScandalNothing to HideOrgasmsOut of the DustPlanet JanetPop & MeRaising AmericaRay's a LaughRelationship RescueReviving OpheliaRick SingsRunning with ScissorsSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSex, Family, and the Culture WarsSomeone Like YouSong for EloiseSpecial SiblingsStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitThe Arctic IncidentThe AwakeningThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe Burden of SympathyThe CorrectionsThe CorrectionsThe Dream BearerThe Dulcimer Boy The Einstein SyndromeThe Emotional RevolutionThe Eternity CubeThe Hostile HospitalThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Little FriendThe New I DoThe Normal OneThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe Rules of SurvivalThe Same Stuff as StarsThe StepsThe TwitsThe Vile VillageThe Virgin BlueThe Visitation HandbookThe Years of Silence are PastTwistedUltimate JudgementUnderstanding MarriageUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUnhappy TeenagersWastelandWhat Goes UpWhat It Means to Love YouWhat Our Children Teach UsWhen a Parent is DepressedWill You, Won't You?Zazoo
Related Topics

Divorce
Parenting
Life Issues
Elder Care
Child Care

by Karen Hesse
Scholastic, Inc., 1997
Review by Jane Farist on Nov 19th 2003

Out of the Dust

As a novel, Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse is somewhat unconventional as it is written in a combination diary-poetry form.  However, those with poem phobias should not be alarmed; each "diary entry" is written in free verse that is really quite easy to read.  The ease of reading, however, does not mean that the book is simplistic.  The relative paucity of words belies the powerful story that is contained in its pages.

Billie Jo Kelby is 14 years old and living with her mother and father during the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression in Oklahoma.  Even though times are hard, and the ever-present, pervasive dust is everywhere, Billie Jo's life isn't all that bad.  She has a passion and talent for "playing fierce piano", a talent that her mother has passed on to her.  And, after years of trying without success, her mother is expecting a baby – perhaps the son that her father wished for.  Then tragedy strikes, and Billie Jo must work her way out of the dust – the dust of grief, guilt, blame, and anger that are ever-present, pervasive and threaten to destroy the only thing Billie Jo has left – her relationship with her father.

In the aftermath of tragedy Billie Jo and her father plod through each day, barely talking or acknowledging the grief, guilt and pain they feel over their loss.  Dust storm after dust storm blows in and covers their home, their lives and their souls, until finally, Billie Jo can not bear to live in the dust anymore, and she leaves on a train in the night to get out of the dust that is choking her.

When she has been gone a few days she realizes she is more like her father, who is "like the sod" and less like her mother who "had been tumbleweed."  She knows then that she has to return.  And it is here, near the end, that the story of Billie Jo is most heartbreaking – and yet heart mending.  Everything is not set aright at once, but slowly, slowly, Billie Jo and her father begin to put the pieces of their lives back together, and with a little help from a kind woman, the both find their way out of the dust.

Karen Hesse has written a novel that is, at times, quite melancholy.  Readers may find themselves enveloped in the same dark, choking dust that settles over Billie Jo and her father.  And yet, throughout the book there is always a glimmer of hope, always a rain shower to wash away the dust, and make the reader realize that even in all this despair, renewed life and hope can be found.

 

 

© 2003 Jane Farist. All rights reserved.

 

 

After four years in the U.S. Navy and eight years as a 911 dispatcher and administrator, Jane Farist returned to college to complete her degree.  She is currently a junior at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, majoring in Middle Grades Education, with a concentration in Language Arts and Social Studies.