Book Review: ACROSS THE DESERT, by Dusti Bowling

Twelve year old Jolene spends as much time as she can at the library watching a livestream of her favorite pilot, 12 year old “Addie Earhart.” Addie’s livestream, the Desert Aviator, shares her flights in an ultralight plane over the desert. Watching the livestreams keeps Jolene’s mind off what happening with her mom at home, who’s struggling with an addiction to narcotics.

During one of the livestreams, something goes terribly wrong, and Addie’s ultralight plummets to the desert floor as Jolene watches in horror. Knowing the Addie won’t survive long in the desert, Jolene decides to set out in hopes of saving Addie.

Told in both present time and past-tense messages, this is an incredible story of courage and friendship. I loved the way the author sprinkled in names and story snippets of real-life women adventurers, including Emma Gatewood, Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, Valentina Tereshkova,  Lois Pryce, the Van Buren sisters, Bessie Stringfield, Sarah Marquis, Wanda Rutkiewicz and Ynez Mexia.

I can’t wait to share Jolene’s story with my middle grade classroom of readers.

Katie Reilley is a fourth and fifth grade ELA teacher from Elburn, Illinois, and a proud mom to two amazing daughters, ages 14 and 10 who has been married to a wonderful husband for 18 years. She’s a member of #bookexpedition, a group of teachers, librarians and authors who read and review ARCs and newly released middle grade books. She’s also happy to be part of the #classroombookaday community, and loves to learn alongside her students and fellow educators. She has been teaching for twenty-two years, and her passion is getting books into the hands of her students. You can find her on Twitter at @KReilley5.

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