In A Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis is the second book in the series that began with Not A Drop To Drink and it is as bleak and exciting as the first book. Somewhere between Thelma and Louise and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road with just enough of an infusion of Mad Max beyond the Thunderdome to make it a dystopian novel of dark dread and fun.
Life for Lucy has been difficult by the pond. After the world collapsed and water became the coin of the realm, Lucy found safety and a new family by the pond. Having lost her mother and uncle at such a young age, she has gone up with her adoptive mother Lynn. A young girl barely fifthteen years older than Lucy when she took her in. Buy Lynn has always protected Lucy and together they helped to care for the small community that grew around the fresh water pond.
But now illness has come to the small group and when Lucy and her friend good friend Carter are accused to be the carriers; Lucy is forced to leave. Lynn, unwilling to allow Lucy to go alone, sets out with her adopted daughter as they leave the small pond in Ohio and begin their journey to the west coast. It is in California that Lynn and Lucy believe they will find a home. The tales of desalination plants by the ocean give them hope of a world with clean water.
Lucy has her own gift, she is a dowser. She can find water. Its a dangerous gift, one that people will seek to control her over. But Lynn has her own gift. One she honed to a knife’s edge as she lay on her rooftop with her own mother many years before. Lynn’s gift is her rifle.
Together they travel across the country looking for a promise land of clean water. A journey that will be filled with heartache and betrayal and secrets best left hidden.
Not a Drop to Drink was Lynn’s story and as such, In a Handful of Dust is Lucy’s. She has grown, no longer the little girl who is trying to understand why her mother is so distant and unloving, into a sarcastic teenager who has bonded with her adoptive mother Lynn though at times they seem more like sisters than mother and daughter. Lynn herself is not longer the young girl, struggling with the killing of her own mother by wild coyotes but a strong woman whose love and care for her adoptive daughter is as fierce as if she had given birth to her herself.
Their trek across the wasteland that was once the United States is a eye opening picture of a stark future where the world will no longer support humanity. Cities crumble and mankind reverts back to its baser instincts.
In a Handful of Dust is one of the better young adult novels out there. A truly good read.