REVIEW of What Blooms from Dust by James Markert

What Blooms from DustWhen a tornado knocks down the wall of a prison, Jeremiah Goodbye (also known as the Coin-Flip Killer) gets a startling reprieve from the electric chair. Setting out for his hometown of Nowhere, Oklahoma, he’s determined to put a bullet in the twin brother who turned him in to the authorities. But when “Black Sunday,” the worst dust storm in three years of dust storms, overtakes the town, Jeremiah starts to soften toward the people who’ve given up on life. With the help of an orphan boy named Peter, he tries to stop his home from disappearing off the map, digging out houses after each dust storm, eradicating the tarantulas that keep invading the buildings, and hoping against hope that some kindness can bloom in a harsh and barren land that’s been forgotten by its Maker.

This book was a complete and utter surprise. The gorgeous cover outside is matched by the gorgeous prose within. The oppressively suffocating setting of the Dust Bowl is poignantly rendered, as are each of the characters that connect to Jeremiah Goodbye in some way. Jeremiah’s strained relationship with his brother and convuluted relationship with his brother’s wife Ellen set the stage for a complex story about family, hardship, hope, and little deeds of love and mercy. The simplicity of Peter, a child who seems mentally handicapped and yet acts as the catalyst to revive the town, shows how the purest, most unadulterated kindness can come from the least of these.

There were a few parts towards the end of the book where the story dragged, but over all, I found this book a novel and fantastic read. Recommended.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. 

“Coughing resonated like echoes in a cave, not only in their house but across the town as the duster roared through like a train, scraping and peeling and boiling and slamming dirt like fist falls from a God who’d abandoned them.”

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