Review / Across the Desert

20230416ma_0460Book: Across the Desert (2021)
Author: Dusti Bowling
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Opening lines from the book …
It’s so hot today in downtown Phoenix, I could probably bake cookies in a car. Mom and I did that once—baked chocolate cookies in our car. The cookies weren’t browned around the edges like when they’re baked in an oven. They had mostly melted into a pale hard crust, but they were crumbly and totally cooked through. That was, of course, when we had a car.


1)  This book is all about a gutsy girl named Jolene who witnesses a crash in the desert (from online) and is determined to help. The crash involves “Addie Earhart” a 12-year-old girl (love the nod to Amelia Earhart) who was live streaming one of her flying adventures in her ultralight plane. Of course, all the adults in Jolene’s life dismiss her concerns. You know what that means. It’s up to her to save Addie.

2)  I loved how Jolene thinks through her plan from a 12-year-old’s POV. (For example: stealing her mom’s phone and credit card.) The book is realistic enough that she soon learns that all those plans … well, she didn’t think about that.

3) She meets a very likable character on the bus. Marty is an older teen girl who helps Jolene out. You can tell that she doesn’t quite believe Jolene about the crash in the desert, but she’s determined to help because she knows Jolene needs help! If only this world had more Martys!

4) Throughout the book, you’re not sure if they’re going to find Addie. Or if Addie even really exists. And, I won’t be giving spoilers here.  I did love the little glimpses into the past conversations between Jolene and Addie.

5) This book isn’t just about the desert search. We learn early on that Jolene is also trying (and failing) to save her own mother from prescription drug addiction. (Which is partly why she’s able to take off because her mom’s passed out at home.) The plot all comes together in the end.


I really enjoyed this adventure/rescue story. The subplot with the drug addiction was very powerful and I loved how this author dealt with everything.



Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday


9 thoughts on “Review / Across the Desert

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