Written by S. L. Dwyer
Review by Laura Fahey

…a decision made in desperation ends up affecting more than the two children it was meant to save. Sometimes, desperation makes choices for you. When thirteen-year-old Sammy wakes to find he is now an orphan…. Holding on to the pretense that their parents are still alive, Sammy and Birdie learn the art of lying and the terrible burden it carries. Fighting the elements and finding enough food to keep the hunger away, he discovers a strength he never knew he owned along with a mighty big dose of fear.”

S. L. Dwyer’s very engaging novel Dirt kicks off at the 1933 height of the Dust Bowl in the Oklahoma panhandle, when thirteen-year-old Sammy and his seven-year-old sister Birdie suddenly find themselves orphans cast abruptly into a wider and more dangerous world, where they encounter a large cast of characters Dwyer has imagined with obvious relish.

The two young people are drawn with care and affection, and although the novel slightly overdoes both the sentimentality and regional dialect, Dwyer infuses her story with a great deal of interesting period detail and a large amount of homespun humor, bringing the whole narrative to a heart-warming (and pleasingly last minute) conclusion.