School Library Journal - Someplace to Call Home
Dallas crafts an authentic, character-driven story about the American past. As the Great Depression overwhelms the country and a “dust bowl” sweeps across the Great Plains, Tom, Hallie, and Benny Turner find themselves without mother or father. Unable to secure work, the children leave their home in Oklahoma and head toward California. When their Model T car breaks down in Kansas, they expect to stay only a few days, but a friendly farmer and his family soon persuade the children to remain permanently. For the first time in months, the Turners have hope. Tom has work, Hallie returns to school, and Benny has a friend to play with. But life is far from easy. Often called “Okies” and “squatters,” the children must contend with prejudice from many of the townspeople. However, when disaster strikes, the whole town miraculously offers the Turners a warm and helping hand. Despite the harshness of this time in history, Dallas’s focus on the children serves as a gentle introduction to the Great Depression. As in all good historical fiction, the dialogue and setting are accurate and natural. The plot is intentional and evenly paced; nothing is trite or modernized. The descriptions of Benny and his friend Tessie, who seem to be developmentally disabled, are carefully not anachronistic, though secondary characters do use insensitive language toward and about them. VERDICT This historical novel about the importance of family, belonging, and kindness will do well among young readers interested in the past.