Pretty gritty, but hey it is about the Dust Bowl. Ha! I can't resist a good pun.
I'm really becoming a fan of Phelan's work after reading this and Bluffton - he has a knack for really conveying a child's perspective and distilling a particular moment in time. In the case of Bluffton - it was early 1900s vaudeville era and long lazy summer days and childhood bonding that I fervently hope aren't entirely a thing entirely of the past.
Here we have a little tiny snapshot of the Dust Bowl, a time and place that I've always been interested in. Our protagonist is a kid with some typical kid worries (bullies) and some not so typical kid worries (a sister with a chronic illness most likely from constant dust inhalation). His parents are distracted and worried about the lack of rain and, therefore, lack of income. Jack feels useless and powerless - something that a lot of kids can relate to. The rest of the story and the twist is something I'll leave for readers to discover on their own.
For its portrayal of such a grim moment in time, this is not at all a good pick for sensitive children.