Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dust Girl Review

Dust Girl

Book talk:  Callie never knew her father.  He was a travelling musician and according to her mother he will be back any day now.  Despite all the years that have passed her mother keeps waiting and refuses to leave. Even though the town is almost deserted.  Even though they have no customers and no money left.  Even though Callie has the dust in her lungs and the doctor is worried.  While the whole dust bowl heads out West to California, Callie is stuck in Kansas waiting for a man she's never even met.  She thinks she'll die there waiting for him.  Until one day when everything changes.  The worst duster she's ever seen buries the town and she loses her mother in the storm.  Everything she thought she knew turns out to be wrong.  Fairies are real, and her father is one of them.  But they're not tiny, winged creatures and they're not all friendly.  Her mother's refusal to leave suddenly make sense: all this time she was trying to hide and protect Callie.  Now that they've found her, Callie has to run for her life in search of the mother she lost and the father she never met.

Rocks my socks:  This book takes so many usually disparate threads and weaves them together wonderfully.  It's historical fiction about life for those who stayed in the Dust Bowl.   There are fascinating details of life in that era from riding the rails to dance marathons.  It's an intriguing twist on fairy stories.  The politics of this fairy court and how it interacts with the human world will provide plenty of fodder for the later books in this series.  It's a novel about pouring your wishes into song.  Callie learns how to do that literally and work magic through singing, but actual songs from the era are omnipresent in the story.  Every chapter title is from song lyrics.  After I finished the novel I spent the rest of the day listening to a Woody Guthrie Pandora station.  It's about race relations and the practice of passing for white.  Even as they're fleeing supernatural forces, the characters have to face problems from the mortal world that stem from race.  It's about people who are navigating the rocky waters of identity.  Callie's mother is a mortal white woman and her father a black fairy.  The fact that she's biracial and half fairy comes into play as she encounters prejudice from humans and fairies and struggles to find a place where she feels like she belongs.  It's a story about the American Dream.  Callie's companion, Jack is a charming fast-talker who remains optimistic that he can reach wealth and fame despite his humble circumstances and troubled past: the kind of rags-to-riches dreamer American fiction is built on.  Finally the book is just a great adventure tale as Callie and Jack flee forces natural and supernatural including one enemy that is practically a zombie.

Rocks in my socks:  zip

Every book its reader:  Whether you're looking for historical fiction, fantasy, or adventure this book has something for you!  Fans of the Depression Era, music, fairies, and themes of race and identity will all have particular reasons to pick up this book, but anyone looking for a good story will enjoy it.  6th grade and up.


Sarah Zettel has her own website with a page for the book

Here's a video of Callie's favorite song, The Midnight Special:

And here's Do Re Mi by Woody Guthrie (there's other Dust Bowl themed Guthrie songs at this playlist):

Source: school library

Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel: buy it or check it out today!

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