A Cup of Dust

A cup of dustAuthor: Susie Finkbeiner

Publisher: Kregel

Release Date: October 27, 2015

Ever so often you discover a book that is so wonderfully written that it could be a classic in its own right. A Cup of Dust is such a book!

Pearl Spence has been enduring the dust bowl in Red River, Oklahoma for over two years of her ten on this earth. She remembers the times when everyone had plenty, but now she sees everyone suffering.  Her family is fortunate because her father is the sheriff and has a steady income, but all of the share croppers have to rely on the government relief trucks and handouts because of the cursed earth.  Pearl’s world gets even more distraught when a stranger jumps from the train.  Somehow he knows her name and tries to make her think that her family is not what she has known all her life.  She tries to avoid him, but somehow he keeps showing up in her life claiming that he is going to teach her the truth.  But does the truth really matter?

Susie Finkbeiner has spun a master tale dealing with the dust bowl era. While reading this book, my husband’s grandmother who had survived the dust bowl in northwest Texas passed away.  I remember her recounting stories of the dust bowl from stuffing towels under the cracks in the doors and hanging wet blankets over the windows that made the houses stuffy.  She even talked about when her younger sister was born that they would put her in a clean bassinet and two hours later when they took her out there was a silhouette with half an inch of dust around it.  Finkbeiner brought all of these stories back into my head while reading her book.  She even captures events like jackrabbit roundups and the government paying ranchers to kill their cows.  This is such an undocumented era of our history that I’m glad she took it on to bring it to life.

From the opening phrase, I knew this book was destined to grab my attention. The prose throughout was astounding.  Told from ten year old Pear’s perspective, I connected immediately with her.  Her struggle to be more of an adult was evident throughout the book.  Yet, she still longed to be a child and to be loved.  The hardships are brilliantly depicted by the characters, but not stereotypically.  I would equate this novel to Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath concerning this time in history.  I would love to see this come to the silver screen one day!

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