Read Across America Picks - Day 7

by Jenna Maxman, NJLA Board Member


With Read Across America swiftly approaching, the NJLA Board is highlighting stories that you can share with children in classrooms or at home. Today's choice is 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling. This fast-paced adventure is perfect for middle grade readers.



Dusti Bowling, of Insignificant Events in the Life of A Cactus fame, writes to the middle grade readers with such authenticity. She does not disappoint with her 2018 novel, 24 Hours in Nowhere. I highly recommend this engaging and relevant story for 5th grade plus readers. The setting, in a desolate poor town in Arizona, shows us 13-year-old Gus, abandoned years prior by his father after a fun-filled day at Disneyland. He is left with his unconventional and uninvolved grandma. Both are living in a run-down trailer where Gus believes the SATs are his key to getting out of Nowhere. As might be expected, the school bully uses Gus as his personal punching bag physically and verbally and lays down an ultimatum that Gus feels obligated to make good on for the sake of his reputation. Gus embarks on a journey with a hodge-podge band of middle schoolers. Together they face the desert heat, haunted abandoned mines, javelinas, mountain lions, pitch-black darkness, and a near-death drowning to accomplish the goal they set out on. This eclectic group exhibits extreme bravery and survives these challenges with profound humor and a strong sense of dignity. A not-to-be-missed nailbiter that almost all middle grade readers - and their teachers- will relate to.