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Dust Girl

(The American Fairy #1)

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  1,509 ratings  ·  319 reviews
Callie LeRoux is choking on dust. It seeps through the cracks in the hotel that Callie and her mother run in Kansas. It’s slowly filling her lungs. Callie’s begged her mother to leave their town, like their neighbors have already done, but her mother refuses. She’s waiting for Callie’s long-gone father to return.

Just as the biggest dust storm in history sweeps through the
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.46  · 
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Jillian -always aspiring-
What makes a five-star read? For some people, a five-star book might mean "near-perfection" in storytelling, characterization, plot, prose, pacing, theme, and enjoyment. For me, however, a five-star read usually must have all of the following: a certain degree of uniqueness to the story's execution, great characters whom I come to love, a high level of enjoyability, and (most important of all) a story that grips me from beginning to end. If a book can grant me all of those things, then said book ...more
Tamora Pierce
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-ya-yr
A splendidly well-written book, set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Callie's mom has gone missing, but a mysterious stranger points her to the golden country around Hollywood, if she can get there somehow. Traveling with her is Jack, a hobo boy who knows how to survive in the cruel world of the Great Depression and who doesn't mind that Callie obviously has Negro blood--or is it blood from a people far more outside human experience even than the blacks of the 1930s?

Callie and Jack have embarked o
Oct 26, 2011 rated it liked it
It took me half the book to get really invested into the novel and Callie and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Callie reads very differently as a character. I would have said differently than I am used to but really, that is not the case. I can’t quite put my finger on the exact reason why it’s difficult to get immediately immersed into the story but I think it might be because Callie’s “voice” is much younger than what I was expecting. There’s this skein of immaturity running ...more

Maybe 3-1/2 stars. It did keep me zooming along.
Callie LeRoux and her mother operate a hotel in Slow Run, Kansas in 1935 ... or at least they did until the Dust Bowl came and the guests dried up right along with everything else. Now they just go through the motions while their town dies around them. One day, Callie's mother demands that she call her long-missing father for help -- by playing his piano. But when Callie does, her mother disappears and a string of mysterious strangers begin arrivi
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

"An unexpected delight" were the immediate words to pop into my head upon my all-too-soon completion of this historical remake of America in the Dust Bowl - with fairies! Teaching me once again that assumptions are flawed from the outset, both early and often Dust Girl exceeded my expectations. I got a thoroughly developed and humanly flawed heroine, a likeable rogue for a possible love interest, a fresh envisioning of the oft-used Seelie/Unseelie Court
Far from perfect, and some of the languaging was a little uncomfortable (just in terms of cultural depictions etc) but some really creative ideas. By the end the plot had lost control a little but I would happily read the sequel!
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012, galleys
Faerie lore purists will probably hate Dust Girl for the same reason I love it. This novel takes the ancient faerie stories, seelie and unseelie courts, and bastardizes it as only Americans can. It's unique and compelling, weaving in American history and some of our own legends.

Callie LeRoux has spent her whole life living in the small town of Slow Run. Her mother operates an old empty hotel. Their town is a dying community, stuck in the middle of the Kansas dust bowl. To make matters worse, her
Nov 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Originally reviewed here.

Before I start my review, let’s have a word about the cover. Initially, I really liked it. And then I cracked the book and realized that our main character, Callie, is half-black. To me, this makes the cover of Dust Girl the latest offender of whitewashing, a practice that needs to stop.

My papa was a black man. That made me a black girl. That meant there was a whole world of things I couldn’t do, and places I couldn’t go. I couldn’t sit in the Moonlight Room, or go to th
Amber at Fall Into Books
Dust Girl is unlike any novel I've ever read. It's set in the 1930s in the Dust Bowl in Kansas, and it's about a mixed race fae, Callie, and her need to reach California. While Zettel's descriptions had me feeling as if I was actually in the Dust Bowl with Callie, the world-building itself was lacking. Also, the characters were flawed and believable, but I found them hard to relate to.

Callie's race, which always hovered in the background, was a good reminder of which time period you were in, bu
Kat Heckenbach
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book started off amazing. The vividness of the setting, the character of Callie, the originality of the concept. Set in 1935, a time of severe drought in the dustbowl of Kansas, amid a time of racism with a biracial protagonist.

But it quickly started going downhill.

For much of the story, Callie and her new friend Jack are running from strange things, including bugs disguised as people, after Callie's mom disappears in a dust storm. In the process, Callie discovers she's half fairy and her f
Jun 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 1901-1950, 4-star
This was very nearly a one-sitting book (from Netgalley, thank you). I wandered off from what I was already reading, dipped into a couple of other stories, and realized with a kind of guilty start that I'd had Dust Girl for quite a while and needed to see if I wanted to commit to it. Three hours later I was 80% of the way through it and had to turn off the light because of my stupid job. Note: As usual, the Kindle galley was a bit funky – erratic indentations and line breaks, and randomly placed ...more
Dark Faerie Tales
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A great recipe of magic, historical fiction, and fantasy. Not your typical Fae story.

Opening Sentence: Once upon a time, I was a girl called Callie.

The Review:

Set in the 1930s, Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel, is about Callie LeRoux. Living in the Dust Bowl in Kansas, Callie is in search for her mother, and father, after the worst dust storm ever. Filled with many twists and unique elements, Dust Girl is a story for the fantasy genre fan. Zettel’s
Lelia Taylor
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: full-reviews
Every now and then, a book comes along that gives a reviewer pause and the reasons can be complicated, perhaps even hard to explain. Such is the case with Dust Girl and what I think of it.

First, the downside. Callie, star of the show, is biracial, being the daughter of a white mother and a black father. Once again, the publishing industry has failed to capitalize on this fairly uncommon element and has put a slightly dark white girl on the cover. The most telling discrepancy is the hair—in the b
Mel (Daily Prophecy)
Nov 26, 2011 rated it really liked it

“I thought maybe I could just get away from everything. But you can't get away from a thing that's your own fault.”

From the beginning I was sucked into the story of Callie. She lives in Slow Run with her mother in a small hotel. The constant storms are causing health problems for Callie, but her mother refuses to leave. Year ago their father left them, but he promised to return one day and her mother is holding tight to that promise.

When one of the worst du
Feb 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Right from the start you get a real sense of the dry, dusty existence that Callie and her mother live in their isolated Kansas town. Times are already tough because of the depression, but Callie's past is mysterious. Her mother still holds a torch for her father, who disappeared long ago. Callie is bi-racial, which is hard enough in this time and place, but with a father whose identity is shrouded in mystery, things get even worse. The story is intricately woven, as many faerie stories are, and ...more
Straight up, it took me a long time to warm up to Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel. I felt as though I had been dropped into it with no idea of what was going on. I didn’t immediately feel grounded in the story. Frankly, though, once I had a better sense of place and world, Dust Girl went from being a chore to read to a story that I absolutely wolfed down.
Read the rest of my review here
Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Four stars: An interesting tale that blends the days of the Dust Bowl and Depression with the magic and unpredictability of the Fey.

Callie's body spasms with a deep, racking cough. Her lungs are heavy with dust. More than her lungs are plagued by the dirt that has overtaken all of the Midwest. Callie lives in Kansas, and like all the other towns in the area, the violent dust storms have choked all the land and driven away most of the citizens. Callie longs to escape the nightmarish dust, but her
Katharine Ott
Nov 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, series, fantasy
"Dust Girl" - written by Sarah Zettel and published in 2012 by Random House Children's Books. Callie is living with her mother in their shuttered hotel in Kansas in 1935, Dust Bowl times, watching their town slowly close down. She is of mixed-race - her black father was a piano player who left before she was born and her mother takes care to hide this heritage from others. When a huge dust storm moves in, things take a turn for the worse, while Callie's latent powers inherited from her fairy fat ...more
Aug 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The beginning of this book was full of fantastic descriptive words that really shared (for me at least) what it was like in the dust bowl of the Midwest. I had always wondered what it was like during that time and this answered so much about that. I enjoyed learning about Callie and her experiences. I cringed with her and felt the worry she experienced because of who she was. I didn't realize it was a series when I started it, so was disappointed in the end. Since then I learned that there are t ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Originally posted here.

Guys, this book was weird. Like one of the weirdest books I've read this side of my college course on counterculture where we read things like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Much like the books in that course, I definitely felt like I was on some sort of substance-assisted journey as I read through Dust Girl. So yeah, that was interesting.

Though it was pretty evident from the opening that this was perhaps not the book for me, I persisted on and didn't DNF, because there w
This tale takes place in Slow Run Kansas during the time of the great Dust Bowl. Zettel offers us an interesting tale of dark and light fairies, danger and discovery. Fans of folk lore, history and fairies will delight in this tale.

We meet protagonist Callie LeRoux at her home, a grand hotel in Slow Run. The town is all but deserted due to the dry conditions. Sand and dust have affected her health but her mother refuses to leave. Callie’s father, a man she has never met promised he’d return. Whe
Alanna (The Flashlight Reader)
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, 2012, ya
I’m going to go ahead and admit that I am not a fan of fairy books. I like them about as much as I like vampires and zombies. Knowing that, I was a little apprehensive about reading Dust Girl because it was marketed as a Fae story. While that was true, there were other elements that kept this from feeling like a stale fairy tale (no pun intended).
One of the things I noticed right away was the original setting. I can only recall reading one other book set in the Dust Bowl during the early 1900s.
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Title: Dust Girl

Author: Sarah Zettel

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Series: The American Fairy, book one

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The bottom line: An enchanting debut about a young half-fairy coming of age, Dust Girl was just a triumph of a little book--I thoroughly enjoyed it! Highly recommended for fans of both genres!

This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Callie LeRoux is a girl who is well-versed in survival. As a half-black
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Slow Run, Kansas is a backwater barely-town suffering greatly in the wake of the Great Depression. Dust storms rage and businesses are drying up. Callie and her mother live in and run the old Imperial Hotel. While it was once glamorous and busy, the Hotel is now crumbling and failing. But Callie and her mother have stayed in spite of it all. In spite of the dust that has settled in Callie's lungs. In spite of the lack of money and the struggle to keep the place running. And in spite of the fact ...more
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical fantasy is one of my favorite genres, but it is one of the most difficult ones to get right if you ask me - and Sarah Zettel manages to nearly nail it with Dust Girl. It has the perfect amount of intrigue, adventure, and great story that features a budding friendship.

I don't know how I didn't read this one earlier. I heard about it and was excited, but somehow it just slipped down my TBR pile and boy am I regretting it. I love how different Sarah Zettel's fairies are. While there are
Apr 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing

This is such a rich and intriguing read, suitable for ages 10 on up I think. As long as the 10 year old can cope with violence, death and subtle, tricksy fae. [spoilers removed]The world building is outstanding, Zettel takes us right back to the dustbowl, Kansas 1935, and introduces us to Callie, a girl who is about to learn that not only is she biracial-passing-as-white she is also a halfling-passing-as-human. But this isn't something she can focus on right now, because she is living through t
The Library Lady
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-books, fantasy
As I've often said in recent times,I am sick of vampire/zombie(feh)/ghost/fairy/paranormal books because they are being churned out by the zillion by hip 20-somethings with websites that are mutual admiration societies for other hip 20-something authors creating similar crap.

So when this came in and I saw "The American Fairy" trilogy, I expected more of the same mediocre stuff that makes me long for the days of YA problem novels.

Not so. This book has a fresh setting: Depression Era America in th
Nov 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Man, was I ever intrigued by Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel. Give me a good ole' Dust Bowl/Great Depression story any day. Give me a new twist on faerie lore any day. Wait...I get BOTH?! Ms. Zettel took a unique approach with her novel that totally caught me off-guard. I am ashamed that I thought she'd "girly out" on the faerie end of things...but the first encounter of the faerie kind wiped that idea out. There were a lot of tidbits that I wanted more information on, and I know that this book is int ...more
Leia Rose
Jun 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
DNF 57%

This book was weird and seemed to take forever to get anywhere. Halfway through the book and I know only a little more than when I started.

I also struggled with the small detail of Callie being half-black but not really looking it on the cover and none of the people in her life could tell. Supposedly it was because she stayed out of the sun. I can't think of any half-black people I've met that didn't look mixed! They couldn't pass for white people. Considering Callie's hair is stated to
Anne Gray
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I'm not a big fan of the Seelie/Unseelie Fairy mythos, but I bought this anyway because I *am* a big fan of Sarah Zettel. Once I opened it, it grabbed me, and now I'm going to have to get the sequel, because I really want to know what happens to these characters.

There is a mix of mythologies in the book, including a visit from someone who may turn out to have been Coyote. And there is a mix of reality and fantasy that I thought was pretty well done. The Dust Bowl era was a dramatic time to live
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 26, 2015 07:22AM  

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Sarah Zettel is the critically acclaimed author of more than twenty novels, spanning the full range of genre fiction. Her debut novel, Reclamation, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her second release, Fool’s War, was a 1997 New York Times Notable Book, and the American Library Association named Playing God one of the Best Books for Young Adults of 1999. Her novel Bitter Angels won the Phi ...more

Other books in the series

The American Fairy (3 books)
  • Golden Girl (The American Fairy, #2)
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60 likes · 5 comments
“Mama took me in her arms and held me tight. Her embrace was hot and she smelled like sweat, dust, and grease, but I wanted her. I wanted to crawl inside her mind to find that place that let her smile and sing through the worst dust storms. If I had to be crazy, I wanted my mama's kind of crazy, because she was never afraid.” 20 likes
“They were beautiful beyond words, beautiful beyond understanding. So beautiful, I wanted to tear out my heart and hand it over, because after seeing them, I surely wouldn't have any more use for it.” 7 likes
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