Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Verse Novel Challenge: Out of the Dust

My apologies for my sparse blogs of late. I have three main reasons (read: excuses):
  1. My parents are visiting
  2. I'm rewriting my book (more on that tomorrow)
  3. All the other stuff of life: amazing kids, dashingly handsome sidekick, cooking, cleaning, colds, appointments, weird pregnancy hormones, etc.
I've also been reading, because I can't write well without reading well.
I read Out of the Dust  by Karen Hesse while I was down in LA at the SCBWI conference.

I've come to a general conclusion: I love verse novels. I love the language, their way with words, their beautiful sense of simplicity.

It's almost maddening how much I enjoyed this book. But "enjoyed" is such a wrong word because the experience was gut-wrenching, but the ending was so satisfying, and everything about it was so simple. This book took me on an emotional journey and saying I "enjoyed" it is like describing a trip to the moon as "nice." Inadequate.

I'm coming out of this reading with a selfish desire. I want to learn how an author can say so much in so few words. I want that genius for myself.

I made my mother read Out of the Dust as soon as she arrived at my house. She cried. A lot. And thanked me.

I don't usually like making my mother cry, but in this case it was gratifying.


  1. I love how you can take in a whole verse novel in an hour or two. And yes, the authors' ability to pack so much punch into so few words is very admirable.

    I'll have to check this one out, too. (So far, I've checked out all the others you've recommended, Amy:) )

  2. That's great, Krista. Did you like the other ones? I hope so!


  3. Amy,

    I'm so thrilled to read all this!!

    I remember reading Out of the Dust on a road trip, right after I'd read a how to book on writing for kids. Karen Hesse blew everything I'd learned out of the water and pushed me in ways that to this day still influence my writing. I didn't allow myself to re-read Dust until my first draft of my own verse novel was done (I thought it might destroy me to read such amazing work up against my measly beginnings).

    We're pretty close to settled in NM. How are you?

  4. Oooh! I know a book by Karen Hesse you should read. It's called: Letters by Rifka. It's a bout a girl from Russia who is escaping to America. I really recommend it, so if you have time please check it out :)

  5. I had a similar experience when I read that book. Hesse is an amazing author. I highly recommend her novel. So glad to find someone else who feels as I do. :)

  6. I've never read a verse novel and I love to get so involved I cry so I'm definitely going to get this one. Thanks for mentioning it.