Book: Out of the Dust
By Karen Hesse
She tries to live life as normally as she can, but soon, Billie Jo's dad leaves a pot of kerosene out on the stove, causing Billie Jo to accidently spill it on her mom, and causing her mother to die, giving birth to her baby brother earlier. Soon, her brother dies to, and Billie Jo is left with only her dad. And Billie Jo must decide- Will she go Out of the Dust, or remain in the dust with her father?
Apples are Billie Jo's favorite fruit. Billie Jo had an apple tree outside her house, which she has had there since she was a little girl. When the apples were ripe enough, Billie Jo and her mom always got together and made yummy treats out of them. This symbol not only shows two of the characters favorite snack, but also shows the two characters bonding.
Ever since Billie Jo's ma taught her how to play piano, it has become her hobby. The grand piano was a gift to Billie Jo's mother from her dad, to mark their first anniversary. When Billie Jo was old enough to play it, her mother took her to the piano and taught her Everything she knew about pianos. Soon, Billie Jo is getting offers from everywhere to play for them. This symbol also shows two characters bonding, and it shows that Billie Jo has her ways to get her mind of the Dust Bowl.
This family picture plays a key role in the turning point of the book. It helps Billie Jo realize something. In order to know what this lesson is, you will have to read the book!
- Billie Jo-A teen living in the Dust Bowl. She loves apples, and playing piano. She always wanted to go out of the dust, but was not sure if she should leave her parents.
- Father-Billie Jo's dad, grieved by his wife's death. He tries to make Billie Jo as good as a son, but soon grows to love her as to who she is.
- Mother-Billie Jo's mom is a professional piano player, and can lure even the most tired people out to listen to her play. She gets very hot-tempered towards the end of her life, but she still cares for her only child in the story.
Excerpt from the story
As summer wheat came ripe, so did I, born at home, on the kitchen floor. Ma crouched, barefoot, bare bottomed over the swept boards, because that's where Daddy said it'd be best. I came too fast for the doctor, bawling as soon as Daddy wiped his hand around inside my mouth. To hear Ma tell it, I hollered myself red the day I was born. Red's the color I've stayed ever since. Daddy named me Billie Jo. He wanted a boy. Instead, he got a long-legged girl with a wide mouth and cheekbones like bicycle handles. He got a redheaded, heckle-faced, narrow-hipped girl with a fondness for apples and a hunger for playing fierce piano. From the earliest I can remember I've been restless in this little Panhandle shack we call home, always getting in Ma's way with my pointy elbows, my fidgety legs. By the summer I turned nine Daddy had given up about having a boy. He tried making me do. I look just like him, I can handle myself most everywhere he puts me, even on the tractor, though I don't like that much. Ma tried having other babies. It never seemed to go right, except with me. But this morning Ma let on as how she's expecting again. Other than the three of us there's not much family to speak of. Daddy, the only boy Kelby left since Grandpa died from a cancer that ate up the most of his skin, and Aunt Ellis, almost fourteen years older than Daddy and living in Lubbock, a ways south of here, and a whole world apart to hear Daddy tell it. And Ma, with only Great-uncle Floyd, old as ancient Indian bones, and mean as a rattler, rotting away in that room down in Dallas. I'll be nearly fourteen just like Aunt Ellis was when Daddy was born by the time this baby comes. Wonder if Daddy'll get his boy this time?