♦ Hope and Redemption are ‘What Blooms from Dust’ in James Markert’s New Novel [REVIEW]

A huge dust storm moves across the land during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

A prodigal son. A child for sale. Both get a second chance in the midst of the 1930s Oklahoma Dust Bowl in James Markert’s What Blooms from Dust. (Photo courtesy US Department of Agriculture, Flickr)

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I have always loved survivor stories: those tales where people beat the odds, transform their lives, and wind up with something better. So it brings me great pleasure to bring you our latest Diamond Review title, James Markert’s What Blooms from Dust. In this redemptive story set against the 1930s Dust Bowl, we are introduced to what may likely become two of modern literature’s most unforgettable characters.


Thomas Nelson

Jeremiah Goodbye isn’t a good man, at least the way he sees it. Just as he comes face to face with death on the seat of Old Sparky, a twist of fate sets him free and gives him a second chance at life. But that same twist also discombobulates him and makes his knack for reading people fuzzy and unreliable. So he trusts a coin toss to determine his future, and winds up heading back to his hometown of Nowhere, Oklahoma, a community blanketed in dust and despair, where Jeremiah plans to settle a score once and for all by killing his twin brother, Josiah.

What Jeremiah doesn’t count on, however, is running into a scene that will alter his trajectory even further. For along the way, he encounters victims of the Great Depression: a starving mother selling one of her children. Not liking the look of the suspicious man trying to strike a bargain for a charming boy with a grin as wide as the prairie, Jeremiah intervenes, only to find himself saddled with the very child he was trying to protect.

When Jeremiah arrives in Nowhere with his young charge, Peter Cotton, the duo finds a community that is desperate and weary, buried beneath years of disconsolate crops, a failed economy and a mountain of dust. Little do they realize that they are about to become unlikely heroes in a town soon to become nothing but a memory of time. But will they be able to save the townsfolk from themselves? And will Jeremiah defeat his personal demons or will he succumb to the weight of his guilt and the secrets that destroyed his family?

What Blooms from Dust is Southern fiction at its best. Similar to authors Pat Conroy, Greg Iles, Michael Griffiths and James Braziel, Markert captures the traumatic landscape of the 1930s Dust Bowl with long, leisurely brushstrokes that will both haunt and captivate readers. His prose is gorgeous and compelling, and despite the pain and hopelessness of the era, we are delighted to explore this dying dot on the map, led by a competent and talented storyteller as our guide.

Honestly, the most delightful thing about this book is its characters. An ex-con with a grudge, Jeremiah isn’t the most obvious of heroes, but then again, neither is Peter, a child who is unwanted and simple. Therein, however, lies the beauty and the transcendant majesty of this story. These two characters forge a relationship that is at once surprising and impossible, yet is tinged with the miraculous power of acceptance and love. Uplifting and insightful, it begs comparison to John Irving’s Cider House Rules and John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which is why I’m confident readers will respond to this novel with equal ardor. What Blooms from Dust is a volume to be treasured and shared, one which steals our hearts and reminds us why we fell in love with great fiction in the first place.


James Markert

James Markert

James Markert is the award-winning author of A White Wind BlewThe Angels’ Share, and All Things Bright and StrangeHis next novel, Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel, is scheduled for release in April 2019.

A USPTA tennis pro and coach, he is also the screenwriter and co-producer of the feature film 2nd Serve

Markert graduated from the University of Louisville where he received a scholarship as the school’s most outstanding history major.

He currently lives with his wife and two children in Louisville, Kentucky. Readers are invited to visit him at his home on the Web at JamesMarkert.com, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

By James Markert
352 pgs. Thomas Nelson. $15.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase What Blooms from Dust at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, iBooks, IndieBound, and Thomas Nelson.

What Blooms from Dust is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

3 Responses to ♦ Hope and Redemption are ‘What Blooms from Dust’ in James Markert’s New Novel [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: It Takes Courage to Be Empathetic | Jathan & Heather

  2. Thanks for being on the tour!

  3. Pingback: James Markert, author of WHAT BLOOMS FROM DUST, on tour June/July 2018 | TLC Book Tours

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