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Out of the Dust

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  50,508 Ratings  ·  3,395 Reviews
When Billie Jo is just fourteen she must endure heart-wrenching ordeals that no child should have to face. The quiet strength she displays while dealing with unspeakable loss is as surprising as it is inspiring.

Written in free verse, this award-winning story is set in the heart of the Great Depression. It chronicles Oklahoma's staggering dust storms, and the environmental-
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published April 11th 2006 by Listening Library (Audio) (first published January 1st 1997)
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Ilirjana Yes i really liked the book!! .You should read it. :)
Caitlyn People in the dust bowl in the 1930s suffered almost 10 years of terrible dust storms, hardly any food, a stock market crash, and not nearly enough…morePeople in the dust bowl in the 1930s suffered almost 10 years of terrible dust storms, hardly any food, a stock market crash, and not nearly enough rain to feed the crops which the farmers and their families depended on. A lot of people contracted "dust pneumonia" and died. Some died from getting caught in a storm and couldn't breathe, and food was scarce. It was a very difficult time in that area at that time. So, millions did not die, but surviving was difficult and many did not make it.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ryan  (The High-functioning Fangirl)

The other day, just out of the blue, I was hit with the thought, "Remember that book about the Dust Bowl you read for school ages ago, and hated with a fury? You should review it and avenge your past self for being subjugated to it."

So that's exactly what I did.

Let me just start off by saying that I don't normally rate books one star. For the most part, I enjoy the books I read. But this one?


You know what's coming, folks. Time for another rant with Ryan.


Where do I even begin? I read this back w
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 11, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Kwesi
Shelves: newberry, childrens
This story is so dark and gruesome that if it were put in prose and not in verse, would probably not pass the standard of the judges for the Newberry Medal. Yes, this won that medal (1998) because the beautiful verses toned down the gloom and sadness that even a middle-age man Asian guy like me felt while imagining what happened to the Kelby family during the Oklahoma Dust Bowl in 1934-1935. It is just too sad that even the harrowing experience of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s magnum opus, ...more
May 25, 2008 Connor rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is so depressing I wanted to shoot myself.
Jun 13, 2009 karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mark-harmon
will someone tell me why this is written in verse?? it doesnt add anything to the feel of the book; if anything, it is distracting and seems very contrived. why would this character be writing poems?? it would make so much more sense to write this as diary entries. maybe because poems take up more room so you can get away with writing less to make up a full book?? no one knows. that being said, i liked this, but its not going to earn a place on my childrens book wall of fame. its kind of horrify ...more
Shannon (leaninglights)
This is a must read children's book for me. I loved it as a kid and I loved jumping back into it. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend.
Kwesi 章英狮
Apr 22, 2011 Kwesi 章英狮 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, karen-hesse, 2011
I never enjoyed my history subject when I was young, I always have the worst teacher and the worst field trips in my entire life. Contradict to that, I enjoyed reading historical fiction and children's books. Although I don't have any idea about dust bowl or the great depression or whatever happened that time. I told you, I never learned something from my world history teacher. But after reading this book last year, I was amazed that Karen Hesse wrote something emotional for children to love and ...more
Feb 02, 2015 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Kwesi 章英狮
I read this book (historical fiction told in prose poetry) yesterday. Then, this morning, I saw in the newspaper that the Oklahoma Panhandle (where the book is set) is experiencing a drought worse than during the Dust Bowl, the time period of this novel.

I think if I had been able to read this as a child, it would've made an even bigger impression on me. It would've stayed in my memory and I probably would've gone on to read Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath when I got older. (I still need to do th
 Princess Gabriel The Bookish Bookaholic of the Western Timbers of Librarianland (aka Gabriel the Bookaholic)
Yeah... Well, I think it is a good read if you wanna be hella depressed and wanna know about the Dust Bowl, otherwise, I don't rec it...
May 27, 2011 Apokripos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Children who would like to know about life in Depression-era, Dust Bowl Oklahoma
Recommended to Apokripos by: Kwesi Ian Jay Junsan
Because of Dust
(A Book Review of Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust)

Since reading John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, I’ve often wondered how life could’ve been to the Oklahoman farmers and families who opted not to leave their land. Karen Hesse, in her 1998 Newbery Medal book Out of the Dust, gives us a glimpse of the rigors of farm life in the Depression-era, Dust Bowl Oklahoma through the eyes of Billie Jo as her father scrapes a meager living out of the parched, drought-stricken fields while she g
Book number 4, I mean 6, on my Young Adult whirlwind reading binge. I think these books are making my head go softer than it already was.

This is an ambivalent three stars. This book didn't do much for me. I like that the reviews that I glanced at for this book all called this really depressing. Maybe I don't like it, but I find it kind of amusing. I didn't find it all that depressing, the most depressing thing in the book I think was lifted from Woody Guthries life, opps. I don't really know ab
Nov 23, 2008 Tyson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I would like this more if I read it now on my own. As it is, I read it in high school and hated every second of it. Most depressing thing I've ever read in my life. I understand that living in the Oklahoma dust bowl would be horrible but that's not the depressing part...
May 01, 2016 Mariah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember loving this book!
Catherine Yee
Jun 21, 2012 Catherine Yee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Out of the dust...
And into the trash
Ln Rispoli
May 12, 2014 Ln Rispoli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Out of the Dust is my kind of book. It is an incredibly emotional story told through poetry. The book is slow paced because of the poetic convention but this allows your feelings to develop and grow as you sympathize for the main character Billie Jo and her family. Even though Out of the Dust is set less than a century ago it feels like a very different world. The Depression was tough for a lot of people but the Dust Bowl was truly horrific. Often times when people think about such major tragedi ...more
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Oct 23, 2009 Dawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for my goodreads Newbery online book club. I thought it was very good, but should be in the YA section. The horror, guilt, and anguish of the accident which killed the mother and maimed the main character's hands are not appropriate for elementary school children. It seems that I've read several books lately written in blank verse (others by Sharon Creech). I really appreciate that form. The words flow simply and easily so that I almost forget I am reading poetry. But actually i ...more
Jan 03, 2009 Dena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow - I picked it up because my neice Molly had written in a letter that she was reading it. I treated myself to a trip to the library on New Year's Eve when I got out of work several hours early and picked it up. When I paged through it, I wasn't enthused because it was written in poetic prose format. Didn't think I'd like it. I was wrong. It was a fantastic story and told in a remarkable way. Sadness, grief, frustration, hopelessness and then hope. Pretty heavy stuff for adults let alone fifth ...more
Amy Rae
I never read this one when it came out, for whatever reason, but last semester, one of my classmates just absolutely adored it. And his enthusiasm got me interested in reading it as well.

And I'm glad I did. The sparse verse suits the hardscrabble life described within it, where nothing is free from dust and an ill-placed pail of kerosene can change everything. Finally, a novel in verse that feels equal to Inside Out & Back Again!
Bish Denham
Tough read. But then the Dust Bowl was a tough time to live through. Moments in this story are very dark and depressing. But then the Dust Bowl was a dark depressing time. Through most of it I felt like I was eating dust. But then people who lived through the Dust Bowl really did eat dust. At least I only had to eat it while I read the story. Those who lived through it couldn't get away from it. Dust was their constant unconquerable bane and companion.

What I think this story is really about is t
Jan 30, 2015 Ayeisha_tamayo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Out Of The Dust is about a girl named Billie Jo she is a freckled face girl that lived with her family in Oklahoma trying to survive during the dust bawl.
Billie Jo lived concept with her family until one day her mom and Billie Jo where badly hurt NOW Billie Jo has a choice to stay or leave out of the dust.
If you like inspirational and sad books Out Of The Dust is one for you.
Francisca Darney
I'm a middle school teacher who has used this book with my 8th graders for a couple of years. It is a book that is thought provoking and is written beautifully.
Lesly B
Jan 29, 2015 Lesly B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: already-read
Out of the dust is about how a 12-year-old girl called Billie Jo is struggling to survive the dust bowl. In the story Billie Jo has had a tragic life because of an accident that changed everything and everyone. During the book Billie Jo finds happiness and joy when she finds out the dust made her stronger. Also because she has to find a cure for her broken heart that the accident left her. My favorite part of the book was when she runs away but the realizes she has to back because she thinks her ...more
Maddi Couture
May 18, 2012 Maddi Couture rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book but it is way to sad. The one thing I really like about it is the suspence. It makes me want to read more and pages of it. My mom has to pry me out of the book.
Apr 24, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-reader
It takes a little bit to get into the flow of the book, written in prose of poetic journal entries. It's a year in the life of a fourteen year old girl. A desperate, gut wrenching, dust blowing, starving type of year. The wind was blowing while I was reading, and I kept looking out the window for a grasshopper invasion, birds dropping out of the sky, black dust storm clouds. Thankfully, it's green. I wonder if the survivors of the dust bowl felt like color had been taken from them, in addition t ...more
Natalie Ethington
teenager survives the dust bowl. Written in poetry form with sparse language usage. Very powerful, sad, hopeful, etc. LOVED IT!
Jan 29, 2015 Mtejeda17 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't really interested but the most action I've read was that Billie Jo dealt with an accident that occurred.
Out of the dust is a book about this girl named Billie Jo who lives in a dust bowl and explains her struggles during the dust storm.
Billie Jo's mom got in a accident and everyone blames Billie Jo for it. After the accident she is filled with guilt and wants to know if she would be able to move on.
My favorite part of the book is when she is about to leave to California and leave her father during the dust bowl but than realizes how much she needs her father and how much her father needs her.
karrie's corner
It's hard to believe that Oklahoma was a dust bowl in the '30s, because it doesn't seem to be that way now. Towns, buildings, population and changes in the environment seem to left the dust bowl, well, in the dust.

Billie Jo tells the story of her life as a young girl living during the Depression in the dust bowl. Her descriptions of dust outlining her body as she slept, being in her food as she eats dinner, and making her eyes feel gritty leaves the reader feeling as if you're there. The entir
Jan 30, 2015 Yare rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Out of the Dust is about a girl that lives in Oklahoma with her pregnant mom and her dad. They try to grow crops and survive the dust bowl. Billie Jo's mom gets in a bad accident and it causes her not to play the piano. Her dad and Billie Jo have a bad relationship since the accident. Weeks pass and they start figuring out how to get along. My favorite part is when Billie Jo and her dad finally have a good relationship, and they start talking. I would recommend this book because it's good and it ...more
Doncheto viliebre
Jan 29, 2015 Doncheto viliebre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book "out of the Dust" is about a girl name Billie Joe that lives her life in the dust storm with her family. Out of the Dust is a good book Billie Joe plays the piano and is going to have a brother the conflict in the story occurs when Billie Joe accidently hurts her mother this event changes her life. my favorite part was when pa and Billie Joe got there relationship back. I recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense and sad books
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Karen Hesse is an American author of children's literature and literature for young adults, often with historical settings. Her novel Out of the Dust was the winner of the 1998 Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. In 2002, Hesse was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.

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“the way i see it, hard times aren't only about money, or drought, or dust. hard times are about losing spirit, and hope, and what happens when dreams dry up.” 51 likes
“And I know now that all the time I was trying to get
out of the dust,
the fact is,
what I am,
I am because of the dust.
And what I am is good enough.
Even for me.”
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