Parents' Guide to

Out of the Dust

By Megan McDonald, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

A penetrating look at a poor child's life.

Out of the Dust Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 10 parent reviews

age 18+


A beautifully written story but with nightmarish details. The main character's pregnant mother is horrifically burned and dies after days of writhing and moaning in pain, in which her husband eventually abandons her to drink and she gives birth to a dead baby while her daughter watches. This is all described in vivid detail. The story is very depressing. My classmates and I were required to read this in college, and some of us struggled with depression or nightmares for a few days after reading this...even as 20-something-year-old college students. I would exercise great caution in allowing children to read this. I'm not sensitive and I like depressing stories, but I never personally want to open up this book again.

This title has:

Too much violence
age 10+

Left me depressed

I read this book as a nine or ten year old and the book was actually interesting and good until the accident part and after the burning I was fustrated, sad and overall depressed. Plus the book was just boring to me.Now I am a person who LOVES distoptian novels but this book was not somthing that I personally enjoyed.I have also read amazon reviews of a 4th grader kid having nightmares because of this book.Overall I would find a better book

This title has:

Too much violence

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (10 ):
Kids say (32 ):

Billie Jo describes her desolate internal and external landscape with a searing, brutal honesty. She narrates, in unfolding glimpses of story, a tale of death, destruction, dust, and the search for redemption that's written in the first-person, poetic, stanza form of Virginia Euwer Wolff's Make Lemonade. With uncompromising realism, the author shows life in the Dust Bowl taking one sad turn after another for this "redheaded, freckle-faced, narrow-hipped girl with a fondness for apples and a hunger for playing fierce piano."

The increasingly doleful progression of events hammers at the reader, nearly overwhelming the faint light of hope that appears at last in the form of a journey, a surrogate mother, and the promise of music that comes from the healing of Billie Jo's hands as well as heart.

Book Details

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