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Out of the Dust [Paperback]

Karen Hesse
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (643 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 1999 Out of the Dust
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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Product Description

From Amazon

Like the Oklahoma dust bowl from which she came, 14-year-old narrator Billie Jo writes in sparse, free-floating verse. In this compelling, immediate journal, Billie Jo reveals the grim domestic realities of living during the years of constant dust storms: That hopes--like the crops--blow away in the night like skittering tumbleweeds. That trucks, tractors, even Billie Jo's beloved piano, can suddenly be buried beneath drifts of dust. Perhaps swallowing all that grit is what gives Billie Jo--our strong, endearing, rough-cut heroine--the stoic courage to face the death of her mother after a hideous accident that also leaves her piano-playing hands in pain and permanently scarred.

Meanwhile, Billie Jo's silent, windblown father is literally decaying with grief and skin cancer before her very eyes. When she decides to flee the lingering ghosts and dust of her homestead and jump a train west, she discovers a simple but profound truth about herself and her plight. There are no tight, sentimental endings here--just a steady ember of hope that brightens Karen Hesse's exquisitely written and mournful tale. Hesse won the 1998 Newbery Award for this elegantly crafted, gut-wrenching novel, and her fans won't want to miss The Music of Dolphins or Letters from Rifka. (Ages 9 and older) --Gail Hudson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In a starred review of the 1998 Newbery Medal winner, set during the Depression, PW said, "This intimate novel, written in stanza form, poetically conveys the heat, dust and wind of Oklahoma. With each meticulously arranged entry Hesse paints a vivid picture of her heroine's emotions." Ages 11-13.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sixth Grader's review of the book! March 25 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The book I read is called Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. It won the 1998 John Newbery Award. The book is tied on some ways to the Depression Years because it took place then. Depression is a period of low general economic activity marked especially by rising levels of unemployment.
In the years of 1934 and 1935 in the state of Oklahoma, the dust bowl is raging. Bobby Jo, the main character of this book is given this name by her father, because he wanted a boy. Bobby Jo keeps a journel, and writes down the events that happen in a poem form.
Bobby Jo talks about how the Depression and the dust bowl seems to be getting worse. Bobby Jo seems to understand what is going on. A large number of people are losing their jobs, the dust bowl is destroying crops, and there isn't really a lot of money. It is making her family and friends miserable because you have to work really hard just to survive. Bobby Jo lives on a farm covered by dust. Dust storms occur very often in the mid-west. The dust storms are destroying farmer's crops and animals, so people are losing their jobs. There are shortages of food and water causing people to go hungry.
Bobby Jo talks about how she is saddend by people moving away from where she lives. One person was her friend Livie Killian. Bobby Jo's mother is supposed to have a baby, but an accident caused by her father changes all of that. The accident leaves Bobby Jo's hands crippled, and her mother's whole body burned. The mother and the baby die, leaving just Bobby Jo and her father. For the rest of the book, Bobby Jo and her father try to bond with each other and get along, but her father seems to have gone slightly crazy. Bobby Jo starts to worry. Her dad is starting to get spots on his skin. Weird spots.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Sixth Grader's review of the book! March 25 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The book I read is called Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. It won the 1998 John Newbery Award. The book is tied on some ways to the Depression Years because it took place then. Depression is a period of low general economic activity marked especially by rising levels of unemployment.
In the years of 1934 and 1935 in the state of Oklahoma, the dust bowl is raging. Bobby Jo, the main character of this book is given this name by her father, because he wanted a boy. Bobby Jo keeps a journel, and writes down the events that happen in a poem form.
Bobby Jo talks about how the Depression and the dust bowl seems to be getting worse. Bobby Jo seems to understand what is going on. A large number of people are losing their jobs, the dust bowl is destroying crops, and there isn't really a lot of money. It is making her family and friends miserable because you have to work really hard just to survive. Bobby Jo lives on a farm covered by dust. Dust storms occur very often in the mid-west. The dust storms are destroying farmer's crops and animals, so people are losing their jobs. There are shortages of food and water causing people to go hungry.
Bobby Jo talks about how she is saddend by people moving away from where she lives. One person was her friend Livie Killian. Bobby Jo's mother is supposed to have a baby, but an accident caused by her father changes all of that. The accident leaves Bobby Jo's hands crippled, and her mother's whole body burned. The mother and the baby die, leaving just Bobby Jo and her father. For the rest of the book, Bobby Jo and her father try to bond with each other and get along, but her father seems to have gone slightly crazy. Bobby Jo starts to worry. Her dad is starting to get spots on his skin. Weird spots.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Out of The Dust by Karen Hesse March 20 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse is a novel about the life of a 14 year old girl living in the 1930's in the state of Oklahoma. This novel tells about the hardships many people faced during the Dust Bowl, but one thing that makes this book different is the way it was written. Not only was this book written from the perspective of a adolescent it was also written in a series of free verse poems. By writting in free verse poems Hesse captured the interest of many because it gave them a new way to comprehend a book.
Out of the Dust was a very good book, but can be a bit depressing at times. The protagonist Billie Jo seems to lighten things up agian with her piano playing. Billie Jo has a very distant relationship with her father after the death of her mother, but they seem to draw closer to eachother after they learn to forgive the mistakes that they had made.
I would give Out of the Dust 4 out of 5 stars because the book was overall very interesting and captured my interest with Karen Hesse's vivd imagery and percise use of words. I gave the novel only 4 stars because I would find that the book would repeat itself and at other times would seem to make no sense at all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Out of the Dust March 15 2004
By Kevin
Format:Hardcover
Karen Hesse's "Out of the Dust" was very interesting. Hesse's use of vivid language, her style of writing, and the interesting plot that she created can not be matched.
"Out of the Dust" was written in a style different than most Newbery Medal winners. This story was written in free verse poetry, instead of the usual paragraph form. This was a very smart choice, though. Her free verse poetry described the characters and the events much better than other stories. It easily created a clear, descriptive picture in my mind.
The author of "Out of the Dust" made her writing explanatory and colorful, too. She used similes and metaphors to catch the reader's attention and create a work of art. For example, Karen Hesse described the main character as a "long-legged girl" with "cheekbones like bicycle handles". It was not hard to follow the text in this book.
The plot in this book is one of a kind. Taken place in the 1930's, during a time when dust storms and the Great Depression rocked the American well-being, a young, red-headed girl tries to survive this terrible time that she lives in. This girl faces all kinds of conflicts, including human vs. nature, human vs. self, and even human vs. society. Throughout her journey in life, she realizes many things about her family that takes great effect on her. As a daughter and a friend, she becomes a better person.
"Out of the Dust", by Karen Hesse, was beautifully written. The story was well-thought out, with many twists and turns along the way. It was a brilliant piece of writing, and certainly enjoyable to read.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars it's a good story
Recommendation-
I recommend this book to anyone that's 13 years old and up because the first part of the story is emotional. Billy's mom died. Read more
Published on July 19 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. Makes you think about what you have.
I read Out of The Dust when i was probably 11, and i LOVED it! For me, i love stories with a lot of drama and stories that make me cry. Read more
Published on July 4 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars NO GO FOR BILLIE JO
I'm sorry but unless you are looking to throw yourself in a state of depression, this book is of no use to you. Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by Gina
1.0 out of 5 stars Terribly depressing with no uplifters whatsoever
This must be one of the worst pieces of literature I have ever read in my 16 years. Thank you, Waldron Mercy Academy, for providing me with such lovely book suggestions to... Read more
Published on June 14 2004 by QUEEN_OF_EVERYTHING
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Story
I think the book was good. It made me think about how tough it was living through dust storms and living without a mom and without a little brother. Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by Laura M.
1.0 out of 5 stars This book really stinks!
The theme of this book is death. You meet someone, you like them, they either die or move to California. Sorry I ruined all the book talks about. Read more
Published on May 5 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of the Book Wonderful!
The book called out of the dust is a great book! I loved how she explained what the land looked like and how the people relate to the weather when there were major dust storms. Read more
Published on May 4 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of the Dust
I thought that it was a very interesting book(in a good way), and I liked the way it was written -in free verse-, I have not ever seen that before. Read more
Published on May 2 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars book
I was a good book in which exposed you to the harsh reality of the dust how often people died and how hard it was to keep on to hope even through severe hardships. Read more
Published on May 1 2004 by Rolin
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book Review for the Wonderful Book 'Out of the Dust'
This book really opened my eyes. I had no idea how difficult it was to live in the Dust Bowl during the Great Deppression. Read more
Published on April 26 2004 by "wellfinethen"
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