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Blown Away by All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky

September 19, 2011

Bobbie reviews a new young adult novel by renowned mystery author Joe Lansdale.

It’s been a long while since I’ve read an opening of a book that’s as powerful and as thoughtfully wrought as the first few chapters to Joseph R. Lansdale’s All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky. Beginning with the line, “The wind could blow down a full-grown man, but it was the dust that was the worst,” we immediately know that we as readers are in for a ride, sure to be tested by this infamous dust, the grand amount of which is described in the book as being all at once red and white and black. And we know that it will consistently test our determination and faith, just as it will test the story’s main character Jack Catcher, a young boy recently left to face his coming of age alone during the Dust Bowl era of the Great Depression.

After all, once the wind’s knocked you down, you can get right back up if you wish. But the dust in this book has coated everything, has made it hard to see anything hopeful. Jack has lost everything. His mother to the “dirty pneumonia,” his father to a noose he hung himself from after Jack’s mama died. The lands are bare. And the only thing Jack is left with is the dust and a dinner of gritty, rotten rabbits that he’s done his best to cook. It’s easy to get totally absorbed in the vulnerability of Jack’s situation, though he begs for no sympathy. He is a simple young man, without any lofty dreams.

Enter Jack’s former classmate Jane and her younger brother Tony, who themselves have recently been left orphaned and without anything to tie them to the place. They show up in Jack’s yard with plans to steal a dead neighbor’s car and make a break for Texas. Together, they set out on an important journey, quickly turned crazy adventure. The trio faces a run-in with one of the era’s most notorious gangsters, and soon they are racing to warn a carnival-wrestler-turned-bank –robber of the danger that is headed towards him. There are many exciting twists and turns along the way, including lessons learned about life, love and making the most of your own future.

 Lansdale, an award-winning author, mostly known for his adult novels, has crafted in this new YA tale (which went on sale last Tuesday, September 13th) a piece of literature that is at once young and mature, candid and fleshy. It is a colorful ride through a part of our country during a time often left unexplored in books. And anyone will be able to see, once the dust has settled, what a ride it truly was— as well as a hearty and satisfying ending.

To find out more about Joseph R. Lansdale, please visit his website at http://www.joerlansdale.com/.

“[Lansdale has] a folklorist’s eye for telling detail and a front-porch raconteur’s sense of pace.” —The New York Times Book Review

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2014 9:52 am

    I just read this book and loved it!

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  1. All The Earth, Thrown To The Sky | An Education in Books Blog

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