The only thing bigger than the world is fear.
Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.
When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.
In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.
"I will show you fear in a handful of dust." T.S. Eliot 1922
In A Handful of Dust is a companion novel to Not a Drop to Drink. The story actually takes place 10 years into the future. Once again McGinnis brings to light the harshness and reality of the world where these characters live. Years after the Shortage (water) people are still willing to cause harm to others in order to gain access to a viable water source. In A Handful of Dust focuses mostly on the now 17-year old Lucy since Lynn has already had her story.
Lucy has grown up with Lynn as her adoptive mother. She's learned how to read, and best of all, how to survive. She still has her grandmother around, and friends that she can act like a kid with. Lucy has her own hopes, dreams, and optimism for a bright future where she is able to fall in love, have children, and a home of her own. Lucy's determination and vision of the world they live in, is much more tempered that Lynn's. She believes their are good people in the world even when faced with the realities that nothing is ever that simple.
When polio ravages their community, Lucy and Lynn face one of the hardest choices a person has to make; leaving their home, pond, friends, and community behind to go on a journey to a place they've only heard rumors about; California. While we watched Lynn grow up in Not A Drop To Drink, Lynn's journey is heart breaking, emotional, and fraught with dangerous people who want her abilities to locate water. As we've come to expect from McGinnis, Lucy and Lynn find people along the way that are friendly, and not so much. Their journey takes them from Ohio, to the Dustlands of the Midwest, to Sin City, and finally to California where Lucy hopes her future can begin. I will say that while I liked Lucy, Lynn is still my favorite character.
“In a world like this, you pay it forward, 'cause more than likely you didn't deserve it when you got it the first time.”
Lynn, now 26, hasn't changed all that much since we last left her. She's very protective of her pond, her homestead, and of Lucy who she took responsibility for after her family died and calls "little one." She's still deadly with a gun, and doesn't stand around until someone else makes choices for her. Lynn is definitely a hard woman having survived her childhood without the love of a mother. But, not too hard that she becomes unlikable or annoying or pushes Lucy away. Lynn really is determined to give Lucy the best possible future which is obvious in her protective manner, and not just by letting Lucy figure it out all for herself.
I will say that the ending got to me because McGinnis created a wonderful relationship between Lucy and Lynn and left it for readers to figure out what happens next. There is genuine caring and emotions between the two. They are never far from each other, and when something bad happens, they don't walk away thinking doom and gloom. I know this is presumably the end of Lynn and Lucy's journey, but one can only hope that McGinnis finds a way to give Lynn the happy ending that has so far refused to cooperate with her.
The series can definitely be considered more of a possible outcome for the current world, instead one filled with zombies, aliens, devastating nuclear wars, or pandemics that destroy the world. All one needs to do is look around at the American West and see the water shortages to realize that if something isn't done soon, we will be faced with similar challenges.
Author - Mindy McGinnis Title - In a Handful of Dust Series - Not a drop to Drink # 2 Published by Katherine Tegen Books Released: September 23, 2014 Genre: Dystopian Format: E-Book 384 pages