Rosemary McDunn's "The Green Coat, A Tale from the Dustbowl Years" is a stunning work of fiction. Aimed at young readers, it is sure to captivate and delight readers of all ages. Set in North Dakota in the 1930's, it brings to life the hardships and horrors of the farmers whose livelihoods--and the very lives of their families, too--were shattered by a long and relentless drought that turned a huge section of the country into a veritable bowl of dust. McDunn's fictional character Tressa is based on her late mother, who lived through that harrowing time period and came out of the experience a stronger woman. This novel is a magnificent achievement and a moving homage to the author's resilient mother.
McDunn is a gifted storyteller and creates characters and situations that feel so real that you will find yourself transported back in time, right along with 12-year-old Tressa and her older brother Will. When their parents lose their farm, Tressa's Ma and Pa must sell the only home their children have ever known and the family is split apart. No longer able to keep a roof over all of their heads, the devastated couple sends Tressa and Will to live with and work for a man named Doc Heileman--who lives 90 miles away (which at that time, in that place, might as well have been a thousand).
Doc has family troubles of his own; his wife is in a deep depression and is unable to care for her home or her adolescent daughter and toddler son. Tressa starts out missing her parents so terribly that she feels very sorry for herself and can't help but complain about her plight. But with the help of Will's loving support, she learns to accept her situation and tries to see the blessings that are sometimes hidden underneath the layer of dust left by the incessant dry winds that torment the region. Doc is very kind, and appreciative of all Tressa does to help his family. Ultimately, instead of crumbling under the weight of all she must endure, she emerges stronger, more grown-up, and more filled with a deep faith in God's grace than she might have been if she hadn't had to learn to deal with so much adversity at such a young age.
Although some tough things happen in the course of the novel, "The Green Coat, A Tale from the Dustbowl Years" is at heart a story of love, perseverance, faith, and hope. It shows the good that can be achieved when friends and neighbors help each other out and make sacrifices for each other, simply out of the goodness of their hearts. I believe it should be on the bookshelves of every middle school and junior high classroom in the country, because it tells about a period in our country's history about which most of us don't know nearly enough. McDunn should be applauded for bringing this important piece of American history to light for young readers--and for us older ones, too.
In an age when everyone seems to see himself as a victim and the idea of picking yourself up by your bootstraps and succeeding through hard work and determination is an increasingly alien concept, Tressa's story of hardship and survival--her story of triumph--is an inspiration.
Highly recommended! (And there's even a handy glossary and study guide in the back of the book, for any teacher out there reading this who'd like to add Rosemary McDunn's "The Green Coat, a Tale from the Dustbowl Years" to your reading or history curriculum.)
The first word that came to mind when I reached the end of her book was 'wonderful' !!! I'm not sure what I was expecting when I began to read the story. Perhaps, I was thinking that it would be more of a historical summary of the Dust Bowl years. The story did educate us on the facts, but it did it in a way that was entertaining and enjoyable. As I read about Tressa and the hardships that her family endured, I felt as if I were there with them. Rosemary has a way of writing that draws her audience into the story. The characters in "The Green Coat" emphasize the courage and determination that is deep inside most people; an inner strength that can rise up and be held like an unbreakable shield when things seem almost unbearable. I applaud the way that Rosemary emphasized the undying faith that Tressa had by weaving it throughout the story. I will never be able to make a pot of homemade soup again without remembering the 'prayer pot'. "The Green Coat" is well written, educational, and entertaining.
Even though written for young people, I would rate this novel an excellent read for any age. The characters are real and multi-dimensional, and the historical details are vibrant and descriptive. I could almost feel the gritty dust between my teeth as I read about the dust storms. It is convincingly told from the point of view of a twelve-year-old girl, who is able to surmount her own very real suffering and grow in compassion and concern for others. I would recommend it very highly for children, both as an entertaining story and an educational tool for teaching history.
This book grabbed me from the first sentence. I felt that I was walking beside all of the characters. Even tho the subject matter was tragedy, the people were so full of hope and faith. I enjoyed the book immensely. A MUST READ!
I assume this book is targeted to young girls who are fairly religious. That being said, I'm a 68 year-old guy who can't remember the last time I went to church...yet I thought this book was great! I only wish it had more than 176 pages. I'll be passing it along to my Grandkids.
The Green Coat was a very good read.Proof reading it for my granddaughter, I feel many adults could benefit by the tales of hardship (oh so true )persevered with love. I would recommend it to all readers.