Review: All the Earth, Thrown to the Sky

All the Earth, Thrown to the SkyAll the Earth, Thrown to the Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When it comes to dark and gritty, on-the-road type stories, it’s hard to beat Joe Lansdale. In this Young Adult book, he sends a trio of youngsters – who have had impossibly tough lives in the dustbowl of Oklahoma during the depression – on a dangerous and exciting adventure through east Texas (often the setting for Lansdale’s fiction) staying in hobo camps, riding the rails and running from a couple of big-time gangsters.
Forget for a moment that this kind of thing suits my own personal taste well (gritty, southern, hopeless, smartass mixed with badass) and take it for what it is. This is a great story that is perfectly paced. The characters are believable and not at all one-dimensional. Over the course of the book, they often wrestle with the good and evil of life and the gray in between, especially when it comes to what they sometimes have to do themselves.
It being a Young Adult book, I must say I highly recommend it. This is the sort of thing “kids these days” need to be reading more of. Books that show an accurate picture of a different time in America when hardships and hard choices were foisted upon even the very young. Dare I say, if a tween *really* reads this kind of book and takes it to heart, it may improve the kind of person they turn out to be.
The name Mark Twain is often invoked when describing the feel of some of Lansdale’s work and there is probably good reason behind that. It certainly applies here. Other names of note that came to me while reading this book: Daniel Woodrell (“Winter’s Bone”) and John Steinbeck (“The Grapes of Wrath.”) And who wouldn’t like to be in such esteemed company?

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