Monday, April 10, 2017

A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression by Susie Finkbeiner

9780825444463-1Author Susie Finkbeiner has picked up the tale of 10 year old Pearl Spence and her Oklahoma family just months after the death of her Meemaw in her new novel A TRAIL OF CRUMBS.  While the author, through Pearl's recollections, tries to file the readers in on the dangerous events that are resolved at the end of book one A CUP OF DUST, my advice is read that title first and then start A TRAIL OF CRUMBS.  Then you will better understand the spunky, yet fragile Pearl.  Having already experienced more than most adults, Pearl tries to make sense of her abandonment by her birth mother.  Despite the security provided by her loving adoptive parents (especially her father), Pearl's life continues to be affected by the hardships of the Oklahoma dust storms and the crushing depression.  The latest storms have brought the family to its knees as they bury another loved one and hear the doctor's message that Pearl must leave Oklahoma as another bout of dust pneumonia would kill her.

Readers follow the family east to Bliss, Michigan, home of Papa Spence's cousin Gus.  While sights of green grass and flowing rivers may be bliss, Pearl fears that all will not be bliss in Michigan, especially when she witnesses that the vacant, tired look in her mother's eyes does not disappear despite their new home.  And despite Pearl's prayers that Bliss offer up just one friend her age, none materialize and it will be the heroines in her library books and Cousin Gus's wife who will be the girl's companions throughout the summer. Soon the family will face a new threat, one more costly and dangerous than any dust storm.

Finkbeiner writing is both gentle and strong at the same time, just as Pearl is.  We see life through her eyes, and as I mentioned before she has endured more than most adults, and those events have left some deep-seated fears and regrets.  Readers of fiction like to have life neatly tied up at the end of each book, but this book does not offer resolution.  The book ends at the end of a year; Pearl has turned eleven and the family is surviving, but for those readers who want to know more, we have to wait for the third book A SONG OF HOPE which publishes in February 2018.  All the time I was reading A TRAIL OF CRUMBS, I was trying to piece together the whole story of the first book which I read almost two years ago.  By the time I finished this book, I had come to love Pearl and admire her father one more time, but I have to admit I am greatly disappointed that I will need to wait a year to finish their story.  I don't fault the author for this time lapse, but I wish publishers would
space series like this one closer together.  This isn't the type of series built around a town or multiple members of a family, or one character who solves one mystery after another.  This is one whole story, broken into three parts, and I really think readers deserve access to the whole story in a short time frame.  My advice, read books one and two together, and keep them close so you can refresh your memory when the final book comes.  Susie Finkbeiner is a talented author, especially gifted in capturing time and place.  I look forward to her future writings.  I received a copy of this title from Kregel Publications; all opinions are mine, and I was not required to write a review.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Here is a link to my review of A CUP OF DUST, the first book in this series.

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