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.
This story unfolds little by little in a perfectly paced way. Finkbeiner pulls readers in with lovely characters and an unusual setting. I haven’t read a book set in the dustbowl since The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck. I really enjoyed reading Finkbeiner’s take on life during the dust storms. She did a wonderful job describing the struggles of life and the poverty that the people were faced with during that time. She packed in a lot of historical information between the pages of a story about a young girl. I also liked the way Finkbeiner pulled in other causes of the dust bowl, more than just the drought, such as over-farming the land with machines.
I love the pacing of this story. We get to know Pearl’s family and neighbors and then the clues start coming about where the story will go. I can’t say that there was a big, shocking twist in the story, but there are a couple of surprises. I love stories that explore sacrificial love, especially the love of parents for their children.
This is a great story! I was pulled in right from the start into the story and didn’t stop until the end. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, this is a great story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.