Title – The Dust Bowl Orphans
Author:- Suzette D. Harrison
Date published:- will be published on February 7th 2022
No. of pages:- 368 pages
Genre:- Historical FIction
The dust cloud rolls in from nowhere, stinging our eyes and muddling our senses. I reach for my baby sister and pull her small body close to me. When the sky clears, we are alone on an empty road with no clue which way to go…
Oklahoma, 1935. Fifteen-year-old Faith Wilson takes her little sister Hope’s hand. In worn-down shoes, they walk through the choking heat of the Dust Bowl towards a new life in California. But when a storm blows in, the girls are separated from their parents. How will they survive in a place where just the color of their skin puts them in terrible danger?
Starving and forced to sleep on the streets, Faith thinks a room in a small boarding house will keep her sister safe. But the glare in the landlady’s eye as Faith leaves in search of their parents has her wondering if she’s made a dangerous mistake. Who is this woman, and what does she want with sweet little Hope? Trapped, will the sisters ever find their way back to their family?
California, present day. Reeling from her divorce and grieving the child she lost, Zoe Edwards feels completely alone in the world. Throwing herself into work cataloguing old photos for an exhibition, she sees an image of a teenage girl who looks exactly like her, and a shiver grips her. Could this girl be a long-lost relation, someone to finally explain the holes in Zoe’s family history? Diving into the secrets in her past, Zoe unravels this young girl’s heartbreaking story of bravery and sacrifice. But will anything prepare her for the truth about who she is…?
Content Warning:- Attempted rape, miscarriage
After reading The Girl At The Back of the Bus, by the same author, I was excited to receive the ARC of her latest novel, The Dust Bowl Orphans, set during the Great Depression time.
The story is told from the perspectives of two women–Faith is a fifteen year old girl from a poverty ridden farm town in Oklahoma who with her little sister Hope tries to move to California to start a new life, set during 1935 and back in the present day, a woman named Zoe in California is trying to work out her own family tree when someone claims that she looks like a mirror image of Faith.
Though the story is fictional, the story is based on true events, set during the Great Depression time when many farmers from Oklahoma migrated to California in the hopes of better future. Reading about the Faith’s story actually brought tears into my eyes–the hardships she went through living in poverty, how she had to bear responsibility of looking after her younger sister Hope and all the racist chants she had to face when segregation was still in place at that time. I also like how Faith’s own life was rebuilt when she migrated to California, where she soon found her love and became a singer. I do like her relationship with her baby sister, Hope and also her friendship with the white boy named Micah.
I also liked reading Zoe’s part as well. Zoe is clearly a likable character, going through an ugly divorce and working as a curator. After discovering the picture of Faith who looks like the mirror image of herself, Zoe sets about to find answers of her own family. DNA testing, how her family supported during her hard time when she is going through the divorce and the slow budding romance between her and the photographer, Shaun.
The writing was great, captivating and the author did a good job drawing the reader into the story and making the reader feel like they are a part of the story. It was too heartbreaking and emotional, and tear jerking reading Faith’s story, and despite the fact that it was fictional, I couldn’t help but feel, this must be how African-Americans felt and lived in the life of poverty like that. I was glad how things ended for Faith. The ending was great and I kind of expected that time of ending.
Overall, this was an emotional roller coasted ride, that will make you cry and laugh at the same time. This is an unputdownable historical fiction that will take you back to the life during the Great Depression and make you feel like you are a part of that life–worth five stars!
Many thanks to Netgalley and publisher for the ARC. The review is based on my honest opinion only.
Suzette D. Harrison, a native Californian and the middle of three daughters, grew up in a home where reading was required, not requested. Her literary “career” began in junior high school with the publishing of her poetry. While Mrs. Harrison pays homage to Alex Haley, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Langston Hughes, and Toni Morrison as legends who inspired her creativity, it was Dr. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that unleashed her writing. The award-winning author of Taffy is a wife and mother who holds a culinary degree in Pastry & Baking. Mrs. Harrison is currently cooking up her next novel…in between batches of cupcakes.