HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: No Promises in the Wind
Author: Irene Hunt
Cover Illustrator: Lisa Falkenstern
Publisher: Berkley, reissued 1986
Related website(s): http://www.penguinputnam.com (publisher)
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 12 and up
Rating: **** 4 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Hunt, Irene. No Promises in the Wind (Published in 1970 by Modern Curriculum Press, 299 Jefferson Rd., Parsippany, NJ 07054, a division of Follett Publishing Co.; republished in 1986 by Berkley Jam Books, a trademark of the Berkley Publishing Group, a division of The Penguin Group USA Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). It is 1932, during the Great Depression, and fifteen year old Josh Grondowski, who has a job delivering papers, lives in Chicago, IL with his Polish immigrant father Stefan who has been out of work for eight months, his mother Mary who irons all day in a laundry, his older half-sister Kitty who has just been cut back from her clerking job, and his younger ten year old brother Joey. Josh’s best friend at Penn High School is named Howie, who plays the banjo while Josh plays the piano. They enjoy making music together. However, Josh and his dad are frequently at odds with one another, and their arguments are growing worse.
Therefore, Josh decides to leave home and head west. When he tells Howie about his plans, his friend, whose father abandoned him long ago and whose mother is an alcoholic, determines to go with him. And then Joey insists on going too. Their very first day out, Howie falls from a train and is killed, but the two brothers press on. Where do they go? What happens to them? Can they survive the cruel winter? And if so, will they ever return home? Author Irene Hunt’s first novel, Across Five Aprils, was a Newbery Award nominee, and her second novel, Up a Road Slowly, was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1966. The only objectionable element that I would raise to No Promises in the Wind is a little bit of bad language. There are references to swearing and cursing, the “d” and “h” words appear occasionally, and the term “Lord” is used as an exclamation.
The two biggest complaints which I saw about the novel are that it is boring and depressing. Admittedly it is at first somewhat slow-moving, but farther in it gets more interesting. And depressing? One person wrote, “It wanders through very depressing situations and seemed to have no real point,” and another said, “It dragged from tragedy to tragedy each time.” Well, duh! The book is about the Great Depression, and that was a rather depressing time. This is the “powerfully moving” story of a brave young man’s struggle to make his own way through a country of angry, frightened people and to find his own strength with a life for himself in the most turbulent of times. It is a good, interesting look at how life in the 1930s affected the average American.