A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner

51MVQM1vdTL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Where you come from isn’t who you are.

Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff’s family, they’ve got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They’re who the town turns to when there’s a crisis or a need―and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on.
Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother’s unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn’t sure she likes.

Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he’s really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won’t be the only thing darkening Pearl’s world.

While the tone is suspenseful and often poignant, the subtle humor of Pearl’s voice keeps A Cup of Dust from becoming heavy-handed. Finkbeiner deftly paints a story of a family unit coming together despite fractures of distress threatening to pull them apart.

About the Author

Susie Finkbeiner is a stay-at-home mom, speaker, and author from West Michigan. Her previous books include Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother’s Chamomile (2014). She has served as fiction editor and regular contributor to the Burnside Writers Guild and Unbound magazine. Finkbeiner is an avid blogger (see http://www.susiefinkbeiner.com ), is on the planning committee of the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, and has presented or led groups of other writers at several conferences.

My Thoughts

If I could give this book 10 stars on Amazon, I would.  It is one of the best novels I have read in a long time.

The setting is the dust bowl, Oklahoma, 1930’s.  This book is written in first person by Pearl Spence, a young girl who is quickly coming of age.  Her curiosity about life, the tiny town in which she lives, and eventually her past, is neatly woven into this plot.

The keys to her past are held by a criminal who taunts, bullies, and provokes the town in which he once lived.   Once Pearl learns that her father, the town sheriff,  involvement in Eddie’s past, the plot unravels as strong as the Oklahoma winds.

The history of this time is captured on every page.  The author shares the struggle of the people to find food, the sheriff’s job of locating bodies buried by sand, and helplessness which brought depression.  I learned much.

The reason I chose this novel to review came from my interest in this period, prompted from my husband’s stories of his family traveling by covered wagon to Missouri during the dust bowl.  It took a tough breed of people to remain until these storms passed.

I encourage you to read this book.  It was not only entertaining but also enlightening to a time in American history we should not forget.

Thank you to Kregel Publications for a copy in exchange for this review.