Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse threw me into an Oklahoma dust storm and then the entire, suffocating Dust Bowl, with 14 year-old Billie Jo. I journeyed with her in spirit and emotion from Winter 1934 to December 1935 and those years packed a punch. The author uses free verse, which pulls us through the rough times. Thank heavens, because a few of Hesse’s sentences take the place of long, descriptive paragraphs. I don’t think I could have handled the content’s harshness as prose. When I was reading, I tasted the grit of Oklahoma and cried when the snow wasn’t really snow. Since this book won the Newberry Award for best children’s literature, we know it was written for that audience, but why should only children relive this time in America’s history? The book is for all ages. This book causes a heaviness and it’s an important heaviness–of responsibility for the land. Read the book.