Karen Hesse’s acclaimed Newbery Medal award-winning novel, Out of the Dust, chronicles the tale of one girl’s indomitable courage in the face of harrowing tragedy, relayed with a powerful and evocative poetic pen. Fourteen-year-old Billie Jo Kelby and her family are struggling to survive during the Great Depression, housed in a humble abode in Oklahoma. An array of poems, compiled in blank verse by Billie Jo, highlight the Kelbys’ lives, and further detail her inherent and heartening passion for piano. Her mother is pregnant, and the unborn child is a source of light, until an accidental fire consumes and engulfs the Kelbys in tragedy. The catastrophic consequences have anguishing reverberations through the Kelbys’ lives, as Billie Jo and her father struggle to cope with their mutual sorrow and guilt. Hesse’s novel is no sentimental fairytale, but the gritty pluck of her heroine will resonate with readers, who will be entranced by the simple beauty of Billie Jo’s poetry, and fascinated by the historical context that grounds her novel in devastating authenticity. The hopeful ending that sees Hesse’s characters begin to move forward makes this novel appropriate for young readers ages 9 and up.