All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky
Author: Joe R. Lansdale
Pages [hardcover]: 240
lloyd & jane
Jack Catcher’s parents are dead—his mom died of sickness and his dad of a broken heart—and he has to get out of Oklahoma, where dust storms have killed everything green, hopeful, or alive. When former classmate Jane and her little brother Tony show up in his yard with plans to steal a dead neighbor’s car and make a break for Texas, Jack doesn’t need much convincing. But a run-in with one of the era’s most notorious gangsters puts a crimp in Jane’s plan, and soon the three kids are hitching the rails among hoboes, gangsters, and con men, racing to warn a carnival wrestler turned bank robber of the danger he faces and, in the process, find a new home for themselves. This road trip adventure from the legendary Joe R. Lansdale is a thrilling and colorful ride through Depression-era America.
I have to say, this book surprised me in the best way! I’ve always loved learning about the Great Depression . . . ever since I first read the Kit Kittredge American Girl Doll books. Anyone know what I’m talking about? She lived during that time period, was one of my favorites, and so this has really stuck with me, from then until now. Of course, Jack’s story has almost nothing in common (except, you know, the years, and there’s also a girl who wants to become a reporter). Instead, it’s filled with gangsters and circuses, nice old ladies and evil policemen. Pretty much everything you could want in a book, right?
I liked Jack, and his vaguely reluctant friends, though I wasn’t sure I ever got a clear picture of who they were. Death was surrounding them, beating out their childhood innocence before they had a chance to grow out of it themselves, and they all have to deal with hardships no one should face. While this understandably changed their personalities and motives, I couldn’t understand why at some parts they still seemed flat. In others, they were bright, vivid, and anything I could want from a fictional character. Overall, I found myself cheering them on, wanting them to succeed. And be happy for once!
I loved how the various gangsters were incorporated into the plot, bringing in an entirely new level of danger. People tend to romanticize the whole criminal aspect of this era, and that can easily be done, but I like how inAll the Earth, Thrown to the Sky, the line between who is good and who is evil is often blurred. No one is completely good or bad and this is captured wonderfully in the plot.
This is another great book for those looking to read more historical fiction for young adults. That’s what attracted me in the first place, and I really enjoyed the ride. The ending, while disappointing at first, fit in brilliantly with the story and capped off a Depression-era quest for truth and justice.
FOR THE HISTORY BUFF INSIDE OF YOU. 4/5 stars