Set in Depression-era Oklahoma and drawing inevitable comparison to The Grapes of Wrath, Askew's novel presents the best and worst of humanity in its depiction of hardscrabble lives lived during the Dust Bowl. Sharon Thompson is only 14 when cocksure wanderer Harlan Singer steals her heart and takes her on the road. The pair hop freight trains all around the heartland, earning pennies with Harlan's miraculous and captivating harmonica skills. They encounter both greedy authorities and kind strangers, including a run-in with some railroad police that almost kills Harlan, changing his and Sharon's life forever. Askew's command of language is a pleasure to behold, bringing out the pain and wonder of her story with a bittersweet immediacy.