Lone Star Book Blog Tour: Up Near Dallas by Gina Hooten Popp

UP NEAR DALLAS
Winds of Change — Book III

by
GINA HOOTEN POPP

Genre:  Texas Historical Fiction / Romance
Date of Publication: November 12, 2017
Number of Pages: 307

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The year is 1934. Economic turbulence rocks the country. And record drought dries up crops, along with the spirits of every farmer south of the Mason-Dixon. Yet for sixteen-year-old Mick McLaren, life is good as he takes to the open road to chase his dream of being a musician. Riding boxcars, hitchhiking, walking and driving his way across Depression Era Texas, he finds not only himself, but the love of a girl from Dallas named Margaret. Along the way, they befriend Cowboy Larson, a Delta Blues guitarist. Together the three teens, from three very different worlds, come-of-age as their life-changing journey carries them through killer dust storms, extreme poverty, and the unprecedented gangster activity of the Dirty Thirties.

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“One could never know the dangers lurking outside the front door.”

Up Near Dallas is a snapshot of a desperate time in US history: The Dirty Thirties. A time when dust clogged throats, ruined crops, and sent hard-working people to a dark place, where scrabbling to simply stay alive sapped what little strength and hope remained. But this snapshot is unique because it encompasses all strata of human existence in that region: the poor, the rich, the determined, the sick, the fearful, the lovers, and the outlaws.

What I find most interesting in Up Near Dallas is the theme of judgement. Judging others by their looks or by the rumors swirling around them like so much dust and dirt. A doctor is judged for helping outlaws, and a young man is judged based on a photograph that doesn’t tell the whole story, all of which cast far-reaching shadows and danger over their lives and their families.

Mick and Margaret are forced from their homes by a man and woman on the lam, who are wreaking havoc across state lines. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. But that kidnapping is only the catalyst for what comes next. Mick’s and Margaret’s interactions with these fugitives, as well as Mick’s timely meeting with a fellow musician, Cowboy, propel the young sweethearts headlong into their futures, and nothing can keep them apart: distance, besmirched characters, false rumors, the law. Nothing.

The pace is quick, and all the characters are amazing. I especially love the grittiness and sheer determination of Nana Michele. The dust storm scene with Lucy the cow is both harrowing and funny at the same time.

The writing in Up Near Dallas is unadorned, allowing the story and characters to attract the reader based on their own merit. In addition to the theme of judgment, the story is heavy with perseverance and determination as Mick pursues his dream of becoming a musician, embraces his budding feelings for Margaret, and finds some much-needed maturity along the way. Mick is from a wealthy family (even during the Great depression and Dust Bowl), and seeing the downtrodden and struggling people through his eyes offers the reader a unique perspective on the harshness of the era and the stark divide between the rich and the poor.

While Up Near Dallas is the third book in the Winds of Change series, I was quickly swept up into the story, despite not knowing the backgrounds of several characters. Up Near Dallas can stand alone, but I believe taking the time to read the first two in the series would be time well spent.

Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a signed copy of Up Near Dallas by Gina Hooten Popp.


A native Texan, Gina Hooten Popp was born in Greenville and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Along with writing novels, Gina has enjoyed a long career as a professional writer in advertising. Her debut novel THE STORM AFTER was a finalist in the 2014 RONE Awards, and her just-released book CHICO BOY: A NOVEL was a 2016 Medalist Winner in the New Apple Annual Book Awards. Recently, her novel LUCKY’S WAY, about a young fighter pilot from Houston, was endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission.

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12/10/17 Excerpt Texan Girl Reads
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12/13/17 Review Reading by Moonlight

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