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ABOUT THE BOOK (320 pages):

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.


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, is on the planning committee of the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, and has presented or led groups of other writers at several conferences.

Pat Moore Rachel Dodson
Deana Dick Patsy Glans
Becky Jacqueline Robertson
Melody Newburn Linda McGuire
Mary Whitcomb Anna Augustine
Robbi Bourne Shannon Hogan
Amy C Nyla Kay Wilkerson
Sarah Storm Deanna Stevens
Paula Young Mary Hake
Debbie Curto Anne Rightler
Debora Wilder Tammi Cramer
Lori Weller Nora St. Laurent
Mary Arndt Victoria Pless
Amy Smelser Marianne Barkman
Kris Markovich Victor Gentile

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"A Cup of Dust" is incredibly captivating and gripping. It was so hard to put down. My heart was wrenched as I read this book about the reality of Oklahoma Dust Bowl.  Pearl is fierce, relentless and completely a character you can't help but fall in love with, as a reader. I love Pearl and her sweet sense in the book, but we see her strength despite being only ten years old. I wish you could just jump into this book with her. My heart is just grappled by this sweet girl whose innocence was robbed in many ways. 

Having never read a book by Susie Finkbeiner, I was absolutely blown away by the character depth, the incredible research and the ability of a story teller. Wow!  This book continues to stay with me even as I'm finished with it. The story is incredible and more than I can just stick into words for a review because the emotion is raw, intense and at times violent. The reality is that these people needed a Savior. You may have to stop at times to let this book sink in, but Susie does a great job at taking the raw moments and relieving the reader with more less intense moments to keep a well balanced book, which helps the reader from feeling depressed.

This book will have you coming back until you're finished. This is a book of 2015 you CANNOT miss! I would not be surprised if this book picks up some awards! Very well done, Mrs. Finkbeiner! You have me as a reader for life! 

Disclaimer: This book does have some violence, which may be off putting to reader or offend, but this in my opinion, the book would not be what it is without these scenes. 

I hope to see more work and even a potential sequel of some sorts. 

Thank you to the Book Club Network for allowing me to review this book. My review can be found on Amazon, Goodreads, CBD and Barnes & Nobles. 



Thanks, Susie, Cheri, & Fred, for the book! Here is my review:

“We ain’t strangers, are we? You and me’s thick as thieves. Pearl and Eddie. Eddie and Pearl. Gonna take over the world, you and me,” the young girl is told in Susie Finkbeiner’s novel, A Cup of Dust.

Complete review:

This review will be posted on the Kregel Publications, DeeperShopping, and Amazon with links on, Pinterest, Godinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.

What an incredibly compelling novel. I’ve wanted to read this book since I first learned of its existence. I’m grateful to have read this story during the accustomed calendar time of the year of Thanksgiving. The story is beautifully told through the eyes of a loveable, kind, and courageous 10 year old girl growing up in the Panhandle of Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl, or the dirty thirties, as my grandmother, who lived through the time period, refers to it. If a novel like this, based on the actual event of drought and dust, does not make you thankful and appreciative for your blessings, I’m unsure what will.

10 year old Pearl Spence is a literary character who is now imprinted in my heart. She is blessed with a loving family, living in a dried out land during hard times. She watches her friends and neighbors struggle, while witnessing her mother and grandmother giving all they have to help relieve the plight of others. Pearl’s story is not easy, but it is worthwhile. Parts of her childhood likely resonate with many of us. Hopefully her courage will do the same. I loved this story and highly recommend it.

I left this review at Amazon, Deeper Shopping,, Barnes and Nobel, and Goodreads.  Thank you so much for the opportunity to read and review such a quality book.

Hardships are everyday occurrences to the people in Red River, OK.  Families struggle, the town struggles,but they trust in God and remember how things used to be  

Told by 10 year old Pearl Spence, who learns the meaning of family and community.  Faith wins every time  the story takes place during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  If these people can fin d something to be thankful for, how much more should we today  

Susie Finkbeiner in her new book, “A Cup Of Dust” published by Kregel Publications gives us a Novel of the Dust Bowl.

From the back cover:   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.

Welcome to 1934 Red River, Oklahoma in the midst of the Dust Bowl. This is a time of history and section of the country that very few novels have tackled. Why do you think? I, for one, think it is because it is not easy.  This is a coming of age story seen through the eyes of ten-year-old Pearl. There are moments of sweetness, there are moments of great fun and there are moments of tension, especially after the stranger comes to town.  Ms. Finkbeiner is highly talented and keeps the story moving at a very high level of quality. Pearl and all the other people of Red River are well drawn and interesting characters. Then there is the theme of the dust storms that can cloud the sky and what happens when the stranger comes unearthing the secrets that surround Pearl. Not only will this book keep you flipping pages as fast as you can read them it will also have you asking all kinds of questions. Well d   one!

You can find “A Cup Of Dust” at a discount at

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 a href="">> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I had heard a lot about this book. It was very well publicized in bookstores and social networks. When I received notice that I would be reading this book, I was beyond excitement. This story captured the long ago memories of my granddad who had a farm in the Oklahoma Panhandle. I would spend two weeks every summer there as I explored his two-hundred acres. This story helped remind me of a great childhood memory.

Pearl is a curious ten year old who seems wiser than her years. Her dad is the local sheriff and is a hero to many. Everyone knows her family and respects them. Pearl has a best friend named Ray. They go everywhere together as they explore the town and share their thoughts. I remember there being lots of jackrabbits on my grand dad's farm and of course seeing one all fried up and ready to eat at the dinner table. I was never able to eat one. The author wrote a very vivid account of what people use to do to rid the farms of the pesky critters. Pearl had tears streaming down her face as she witnessed this event and gave her such an innocence that I could actually visualize her openly grieving for the animals. The author does an amazing job of describing this time period with honesty and realism. Some may not care for the vivid details, but without them the true understanding of this era would be lost.

There is a strange man that has come to Pearl's town. He sure does seem to know her. Who is this man? Will he be a danger to Peal? The story is so mesmerizing , that I picture myself at Pearl's house surrounded by her loving family. They live a simple life with a strong family bond. The dust storms were fierce and seemed to cover the town like a dome. It was hard for people to breathe in the dust storm and the preacher of the town said, "It's the wrath of God Almighty pouring down on us. " We best get on our knees and beg God to take us back. Beg Him to forgive our sins and to take us back." The preacher is a great character written with strong convictions and a bit of a dramatic flair. Can you imagine sitting there listening to the preacher shouting at the top of his lungs that we all need to repent?

There are so many interesting characters in the book and such outstanding writing that I could not put this book down. I must say I was very intrigued with who this man named Eddie was. Why did he appear out of nowhere and seem to follow Pearl? There is a deep secret that will soon turn many lives upside down. There is a storm brewing in the town . Is it another dust storm or something hidden for many years that will cause Pearl much hurt and a sense of being lost and unloved?

I am completely overwhelmed by the intricate writing of this story. Be ready to be swept back to a time period that was hard to live in with struggles to keep food on the table, dust storms that literally take your breath away and characters so real, you feel as if you are watching a show from "Little House on the Prairie." I am now a huge fan of this author. I will anxiously be waiting for another book from her.

I received a copy of this book from The BookClub Network for an honest review.
My review for this amazing book can also be found on Deepershopping and CBD.

This novel is about  the Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, which took place in the 1930's, both in the USA and in the prairies in Canada, and destroyed many a family as well as their land, the economy and so much more.

The story is based in Oklahoma and on the Spence family consisting of the town sheriff, his wife, and their two daughters, Pearl, 10 and her older sister, Beanie,  with mental impairment.   Meemaw, his mother, also lives with them and her love for Jesus shines brightly on first her family, but then on all in need.  They are financially better off, not rich, but have more than most, and share easily and generously with all whom need their help.   Pearl loves and is proud of her family.
"The only reason I was even close to good was because I'd gotten it from Mama and Daddy.  Everything good inside of me was from them."  pg. 38

Pearl, although 10, is much older, wiser and mature than her age and is called upon to help in a variety of situations that today we would never put a young one in, and yet she arises to the occasion each and every time.

And then a stranger arrives in town, and her life takes a weird twist, as he not only knows her name but enjoys toying with her every time he runs into her.  But feisty Pearl stands up as best she can until...

You will have to pick up and read this fast moving, character rich, unexpected twist moving book and see for yourself what happens next.  Along the way you will learn a little of the Dust Bowl, how they dealt with it, how it affected families and most of all how they trusted God through the trying times.

I give this book 5 stars and although this is the first book I have read by Susie Finkbeiner, it will definitely not be my last.

Thank you to the author and for the opportunity to read this awesome book in exchange for an honest review.

This review has been placed at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Christianbook, Deepershopping, Facebook and Goodreads.

     "A Cup of Dust," by Susie Finkbeiner, is a historical novel, with a lot of research put into it. As you read this book you will learn about the horrendous dust storms that plagued the Red River area in the 1930s. I had no idea that a dust storm could block out the sunlight until reading this book. We learn that no matter how they tried, a person could not keep the dirt out of their homes, and they could never get things really clean.

      This story is written from the point of view of ten year old Pearl. It is beautifully done as this sweet young girl shares her dreams and self-confidence about her life and the love and security of her family. Unfortunately, there are secrets that Pearl's parents have been keeping from her and a nasty hobo, new in town, thinks he should tell Pearl some truths. He makes her very uncomfortable in ways she can't even explain, and she is afraid of him. How does he know her name? Can she hide from him? He keeps turning up.

      "A Cup of Dust" makes one feel the emotions of Pearl. We understand her fears and her inability to explain that scared feeling in the pit of her stomach. I loved the close knit family, the faith in God that her grandma brings to the story, and the old fashioned values. There is some violence and a few well-handled, adult themes,(we learn one woman works in a "cat house," nothing graphic, an unwed pregnancy and the suggestion that the town pastor spends money at the cat house).

      I believe Susie Finkbeiner wrote a beautiful, emotion-filled story with great depictions of the area and times. If you like historical fiction you will love this book. I received this book from The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review. This review is posted at Goodreads, DeeperShopping, CBD, Facebook and Amazon.

This realistic story of life in Oklahoma during the 1930s Dust Bowl presents a tough read about sad circumstances. The author captures the setting and characters well so that you feel like an eyewitness, however parts are disturbing—but such is life. The young narrator makes me think of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, another powerful story with a preteen protagonist that appeals to adults. The dust that swirls through the countryside seems symbolic of the dirt that permeates the characters’ lives as the past becomes clearer and threatens to disrupt their lives even more. I think this would be good for students to read to understand this period of history. I received this from Book Fun Club in exchange for an honest review.

A Cup of Dust is the haunting tale of life in 1930's Depression of Oklahoma's Dust Bowl. It is told in the first person by a young girl named Pearl. She is feisty, relatable, likable, and compassionate. Pearl is the sheriff's younger daughter and lives in a house with her parents, older sister, and grandmother. Her story is gritty and captivating. It was not an easy read but it was easy to become engrossed in this raw, fact based tale. This story will stay with the reader long after the book is finished. It is an emotional story that pulls on heartstrings with raw emotions. There are happy, joyful times and desperate, nightmarish ones, too. Pearl is not a typical 10-year old; she is old for her years because of life's harsh realities. She is cute, helpful, and kind. Her family helps others generously and unselfishly. It is refreshing to read of their goodness when there is so much bad going on around them.

This was the first book I have read by author Susie Finkbeiner. Her characters were all well developed, even secondary ones. It was easy to make friends and fall in love with some of them while others were downright cruel. Dialogue flowed freely and easily throughout the book making conversations enjoyable. Details about the conditions of that area in that awful time were so vivid it made me want to weep. I was introduced to a barbaric way of getting rid of certain animals or pests. This book had a generous helping of scripture and biblical references that helped ease the tension. It had suspense, mystery, drama, inspiration and history. Please note: There is violence in this book that may offend some. A couple times it was difficult for me to continue reading.

It is a very well written book. The story is different from any I have read. It was an emotional read and has certainly stuck with me. I rated this 5 out of 5 stars. I have posted reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble,, Deeper Shopping, and GoodReads.

Wonderful, Compelling Story of the Dust Bowl from Faith Viewpoint...

"What I did see outside was Red River streets, lined by boarded-up buildings and dead dreams. Ruined fields and falling apart lives." This observation by Suzie Finkbeiner's 10 year old protagonist, Pearl Spence, leads her to the ultimate question, where is God in the bad times? She asks her Meemaw,"Is God in Oklahoma?...Or did He leave?"

Finkbeiner populates her story with a variety of characters who would each answer the question differently. The preacher loudly screams at the congregation to repent, because God has brought this disaster upon them, as a result of the farmers being proud of their wheat crops of years gone by. The sheriff, according to Pearl, has a quiet faith, but steady and firm. (I would personally question the faith of someone who never felt the need to be in the presence of God's people, but then and again, I wouldn't want the faith of the preacher, who seemed very two-faced.) Mama seemed to have faith, and showed it by her generosity in caring for others. Yet it was Meemaw's quiet faith that drew Pearl, that was loving, reassuring, and lent an air of confidence that indeed God knew and cared what happened to His people.

Another big theme of the book is family. What is family, how does it influence one? Is environment more important than heredity? Environment makes a HUGE difference many times in a person's life. However, I found I wanted to disagree on some level with Finkbeiner's statement:"The world was full of awful people who did terrible and ugly things. Most of them were only awful because of the scars on their hearts." The Bible says in Jeremiah that "the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked." We don't necessarily need any bad examples to be bad, unfortunately.

The cover is perfect for this book. Unlike the Grapes of Wrath, which seemed to be totally hopeless, this novel had many hopeless parts, but through it all, the hope was presented that God could deliver. On the front cover of A Cup of Dust, the colors are mostly brown. A small rainbow of light pierces the dust to allow a narrow arc of color, just as the Spence family fought to hold onto a narrow hope that God would in fact, deliver them.

Due to adult situations and subject matter, I would rate this book a PG-13. Best for upper high school and above.

I had the pleasure of reading this book provided to me though in exchange for an honest review. i have posted reviews on Amazon, B&N, (attempted to leave on BAM!),CBD, DeeperShopping, GoodReads, and LibraryThing, with links to FB and Twitter. My reviews post under my name and Babbling Becky L.

This historical novel teaches what life was like in the era of severe dust storms in the towns along the Red River in Oklahoma.  It portrays the sadness of life through the eyes of ten-year- old Pearl Spence.


Pearl was the daughter of the town sheriff so she was raised with many perks that others did not have.  Her father had a good, steady income and there was lots of security and love provided within her family.  She was always there to help in every crisis along with her dad.


Pearl followed the lives of the townspeople who struggled to keep food on the table.  The author graphically painted the terrible hardships, but it is still challenging for us today to imagine what those people endured. 


Added to the depth of the story was Eddie, a mysterious hobo.  He seemed to focus on Pearl causing her world to take on the element of uneasiness or even fear as she continued to try to be a hope to others while her inner self was in chaos.


Being ten and living during this difficult time of history makes this story a must read.  It pulls the reader into the hearts of the people while providing a history lesson of one of America’s hardest times.


I received this free book from Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review which is also posted on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


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Created by Phred St Laurent May 27, 2010 at 11:35pm. Last updated by Phred St Laurent May 31, 2010.

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