Hurray for finally making it into the 90’s!! I feel a small sense of accomplishments in changing decade’s even though I know it’s not that big of a deal. Once again I am doing a two-for-one special featuring Holes by Louis Sachar and Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. Part of my reasoning for this is, again, my desperate effort to reach the finish line of writing about books that I’ve read so long ago and start writing about what I’m currently reading so it’s more fresh, but another reason for this double-whammy is that I liked Holes but HATED Out of the Dust and I don’t want to have to write a whole blog about the latter.
I have the feeling that a lot of people know about this book because of the movie that came out quite a few years ago with Shia LaBeouf. It was a good movie but it didn’t make me at all pumped about reading the book. Once I got comfortably settled within this book’s pages though I was definitely hooked. The story is both about the main character, Stanley, while also about his ancestry and the bad luck that they’ve always endured. Just as you’re getting really involved into Stanley’s story Sachar switches you over to the story of his great-great grandfather. It’s an interesting way to write, and read, a story because it constantly keeps you coming back to see what’s happening to who. The books setting is in a barren wasteland, which of course doesn’t sound too appealing but only serves to make the story that much more interesting. I got the sense that this book, almost more than the others, targets elementary age kids very well. It isn’t too hard to understand and nothing tragic happens. No great moral is constantly illuminated, and in the end, you really just walk away feeling happy. It actually reminds me of books that I read as a kid that were just fun stories to get into.
So, I read this one by Karen Hesse probably two months ago and the funny thing is, I BARELY REMEMBER ANY OF IT! I think I disliked it so much and tried to read through it so fast that none of it really sunk in. The main thing that sticks out to me about this story is that it is in the great dust bowl of Oklahoma where dust (go figure) gets into everything. Unpleasant, right? If anything I didn’t like the sensation I’d get via this story of dust under my fingernails or dust gritting in my teeth. Yuck. The other thing I remember is that it is extremely depressing. I think the mom died when giving birth to her second child and the older girl, who loved to play the piano, hurt her hands somehow and couldn’t play anymore without excruciating pain. I don’t want to ruin the ending for those of you out there who might want to give this one a shot, but I think it does end somewhat happily. All I know is that I was thankful to be “out of the dust” when I finished the last page of this Newbery winner.
p.s. I’m not sure how I feel about cutesy endings like the one I just did. It kind of makes me want to gag and nod in approval all in one go. I won’t make a habit of it, I promise.