Billie Jo Kelby is an only child. Though she knows he loves her, she believes her father views her as a substitute for the son he really wanted. Billie Jo is a good student, but her true joy is playing the piano. Billie Jo's piano playing leads to a job with a local musical group and gives her the opportunity to bring home a little money for the family.
When her mother reveals that she is pregnant again, and the pregnancy seems to be going well, the family is hopeful. Despite the hardships of dust and the Great Depression, Billie Jo and her mother and father are a relatively happy family. However, tragedy strikes during an ordinary day. A bucket of kerosene, mistaken for a pail of water, leads to a terrible fire. Billie Jo's mother dies, and Billie Jo suffers serious burns herself when she tries to extinguish the fire with her bare hands.
She and her father must now face the grieving, the healing, and the Dust Bowl alone. Written in free verse as a poetic journal, this touching novel of loss, healing and returning joy after tragedy strikes vividly brings the Dust Bowl years to life.