Monthly Archives: August 2017

Book Review: A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner

Title: A Cup of Dust
Author: Susie Finkbeiner
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Published: October 2015
Series: Pearl Spence Novels
Genre: Historical Christian Fiction

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

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.

My Thoughts:

This tale of the dust bowl made vivid to me a place and time in history I previously knew little about. I read this one what feels like a long time ago and never got around to writing a review. But since I’ve recently been reminded just how much I enjoyed reading it, I’ve gone back over my notes and decided it’s time to share.

This is a young girl’s story, told in her own uniquely quirky voice. Readers are taken on an emotional journey, in turns heartbreaking, terrifying, and humorous, by a character who is somewhat paradoxically both naïve and wise beyond her years.

Our young heroine Pearl makes some great observations every now and then. For example, early in the story (pages 24-25) she notes: “That was when I learned that kindness could break a heart just as sure as meanness. The difference was the kindness made that broken heart softer. Meanness just made the heart want to be hard.”

Pearl’s story touches on some big and discussable themes like love and sacrifice and the true meaning of family. But the aspect that stood out for me was the way the author used different characters’ competing views on the nature of God and His role in their situations. Through these different viewpoints, readers are challenged to consider what we believe and why. This is a story that could foster some great discussion in a book group setting. Highly recommended, particularly to readers up for a literary coming-of-age story with a touch of mystery and suspense.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of the book. I was not required to write a review, but I wanted to.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Series | Author’s Site

Christian Fiction Book Club Connection, August 2017

Book Club Connection

Welcome to the August 2017 edition of the Christian Fiction Book Club Connection. Thanks for stopping by! Whether you’re a pastor or ministry leader thinking of forming a book discussion group at your church, a current member of a book club, or simply a fan of Christian fiction hoping to connect with other readers, you’re in the right place. Please consider subscribing to my blog so you won’t miss future posts.

Today I’m providing information on Christian fiction discussions scheduled to take place around the web this month. I’m also featuring a handful of recently released Christian fiction titles for which a discussion guide is available, either included in the book itself or on the author’s or publisher’s web site.

Online Discussions Coming Up This Month

The ACFW Book Club‘s August selection is Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley. You can subscribe to the group’s e-mail list now, by following the instructions on their Web site, to be sure not to miss any announcements or discussion questions.

By the Book is an in-person book discussion club that has introduced an online Facebook-based discussion option. To join in online, like the By the Book Facebook page, and be sure to check back there periodically for any discussion that may not have made it into your news feed. August’s selection is The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson.

For August, the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads is discussing A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander AND Close to You by Kara Isaac. Grab your copies and head on over to the discussion forum to check in with others who are in the midst of reading these books.

The Fans of Amish Fiction Goodreads group discusses one Amish fiction title per month. The selection for August is The Courtship Basket by Amy Clipston. To join in, visit the group’s online discussion board.

Jamie of the Books and Beverages blog hosts a monthly Inklings discussion series for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, the title for this summer is An Anthology: 365 Readings by George MacDonald. The discussion is planned for August 17, 2017.

Recent Christian Fiction Releases Featuring Discussion Guides

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett (WaterBrook, June 2017, Historical Romantic Suspense)

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin (Bethany House, June 2017, Historical Romance)

Love Story by Karen Kingsbury (Howard Books, June 2017, Contemporary Romance)

The Divide by Jolina Petersheim (Tyndale House, June 2017, Amish Romance)

So, friends, what have you been reading lately? Any titles you’d recommend for book club discussions?