Once, a student told me that the novel No Promises in the Wind by Irene Hunt was "like the author wanted to make a book that would help kids understand what it was like during the Great Depression and that's it. There was no compelling story or any other point to it," (Anders L.).I didn't agree at all, but that's exactly what I'd say about this book.It was short, at a much easier reading level than No Promises, perfect for an AIS class to supplement the Social Studies unit on the Great Depression, except that it has no other merit.It gives a personal touch to what they're learning; the plot is as follows:
The main character is a middle-school-aged boy who plays the harmonica well and lives in Oklahoma with his parents and his (16-year-old!)sister, who moved back home with her husband and baby "until they can get back on their feet, which, of course, never happens).The family (whom you care about minimally) finally loses his job as a typewriter repairman.It is explained that while everyone seemed to be losing their jobs, the father's business was strong as people didn't have enough money to buy new, so they spent their money on repairs (I liked that this was mentioned). The sister and her family decide to drive out to California since there are supposedly better jobs there, and the protagonist and his parents move in with his farmer grandparents.They encounter a dust storm on the way, seek shelter in a farm house that is filled with dust and a crying baby and a single mom, and finally arrive at their new home to find out how poorly the grandparents' crops are doing.The father seeks work every day, never gets more than an odd job here or there, the grandparents feed and board a hobo (teenager coming back from California who informs them of the terrible discrimination faced by "Okies" out there), find that word has spread that they are hospitable to hobos, leading to an influx in hobo traffic, until the whole family begins to starve, hoping all the while that if they keep trying, it will eventually rain and their crops will grow. The protagonist is unable to attend school when it reopens (after being closed for a while due to Depression-related issues)because he cannot afford to buy books and supplies.The family who had moved to California come home, the sister pregnant again, and the father realizes he must, after all, apply for relief.None of this matters, as at least they're all together.The end.
Crappy ending, makes you wonder why you bothered at all, but as you can see, this fictional narrative does get the students into the world of the GD with all of the key concepts present, but at the end, the students probably will think it was a pretty crappy story.On the other hand, it will be a book successfully read by your lower-level readers which never hurts.Until I find something better, I'll differentiate with this book, while my more proficient readers read No Promises in the Wind.
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