Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Dirty Days: A Young Girl's Journey to and from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl by Norma Welty

"It is 1933. As a beat-up truck travels down a road away from Arkansas, seven-year-old Molly May Dowden can only hope a better future awaits her parents in Thistleway, Oklahoma. They have no idea of what is about to come. With their money safely tucked away in a mattress, the Dowdens feel hopeful as they pass through Oklahoma City. But their hopes for an improved life disintegrate a hundred miles further west when a dust storm swirls dangerously around their truck. Forced to take shelter inside a dingy cafe with a band of quirky strangers, the Dowdens soon realize that life in Oklahoma may not be as easy as they had hoped. After the family finally settles in their two-room workers’ shanty, one hardship piles up after another as they battle spider bites, rancid water, strange rashes, loneliness, and death. Left with no choice but to bravely persevere through the never-ending drought and dust, Molly and her family soon discover a fortitude they never knew they had. 

In this historical tale based on true events, a young girl embarks on a coming-of-age journey where she and her loved ones must nobly fight to survive the Great Depression and the Oklahoma Dust Bowl."

Set in 1930’s rural America, Dirty Days tells the story of a young girl coming of age during the Great Depression - a time of extreme poverty and hardship. Horrible dust storms and the daily struggle to keep the dirt and dust from drinking water, bedding, dishes, and furniture bring the details of day-to-day life into vivid reality. The portrayal of the strife faced by so many because of extreme poverty, foreclosures, hunger, and measly possessions strikes at one’s very heart.  

What made this novel so poignant is that the author based it upon her own firs-thand experiences as she and her family grappled to survive. With the addition of fictional characters, she brings to life the hardships faced by farmers who literally watched their livelihood blow away with their topsoil when the winds howled.

Norma Welty gives voice to an era of American history so that our children and grandchildren can understand all that helped shape our history. It is a stark reminder that despite this fast-paced, technological era that we currently live in, our elders faced what seemed like insurmountable strife to provide for their family and future generations.

From History and Women

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