A Trail of Crumbs
By Susie Finkbeiner
Published by Kregel
311 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: Pearl Spence has been through more in her young life than most folks could handle. But through it all, her family has been by her side. They may not be perfect, but they love her and they all love each other, come what may. That's one thing Pearl no longer questions.

But then a devastating tragedy throws the whole family into a tailspin--and signals the beginning of the end of her secure life.

Now the Spences are fleeing their Oklahoma wasteland for an unknown life in Depression-era Michigan. Pearl isn't sure she'll ever see home or happiness again. Will any trail of crumbs be powerful enough to guide her back to the dependable life she once knew?

The strong narrative voice of Finkbeiner’s young protagonist from A Cup of Dust returns in this gritty yet hopeful sequel.

REVIEW: This novel picks up four months after book one ends. Pearl and her family have experienced a great loss and they try to carry on but times get tough. I lost my heart to Pearl in book one, A Cup of Dust, because she is an enchanting little girl who is honest, brave and insightful beyond her ten years. She’s endured more than most could imagine (now because of health issues); their family leaves everybody and everything they've known to start over and reconnect with family in Michigan.

This author brilliantly slips readers into the shoes of loveable eleven-year-old Pearl and has them see and feel the anguish and weariness her family’s experienced through her eyes. This is not an easy read but it was encouraging to learn about the community support system that sprung up during the great depression era.

My favorite parts to read were the times on the farm. I learned that the author loved visits to her family farm each year - she says, …”I based the town of Bliss on a southeastern Michigan farming community called Blissfield…. I have rich and happy memories”…”For this city girl, my days on that family farm were magical and I look back on those visits as some of my favorite memories.”….”This novel recaptures part of my childhood.” The farm times were magical in the book too.

I enjoyed fun moments at the library when Pearl comes up against Mrs. Trask an older Librarian who won’t let her check out adventure stories of Daniel Boone and Davy Crocket. She leads Pearl to the section of proper lady books she can check out. Her Aunt tells her that Mrs. Trask knows the power of story and doesn’t want to corrupt her impressionable mind. Grin! She does manage to read The Wizard of Oz and Hanzel and Gretel. I loved hearing about how Pearl divisors and re-reads these tales and what she thinks about them. There are 11 discussion questions to help create lively discussion with your book club group. The author leaves things up in the air at the end of this novel. I hope book three will be out soon!

ABOUT AUTHOR: Susie Finkbeiner is a story junkie. Always has been and always will be. It seems it's a congenital condition, one she's quite fond of.

After decades of reading everything she could get her hands on (except for See the Eel, a book assigned to her while in first grade, a book she declared was unfit for her book-snob eyes), Susie realized that she wanted to write stories of her own. She began with epics about horses and kittens (but never, ever eels).

It takes years to grow a writer and after decades of work, Susie realized (with much gnashing of teeth and tears) that she was a novelist. In order to learn how to write novels, she read eclectically and adventurously (she may never swim with sharks, but the lady will jump into nearly any story). After reading the work of Lisa Samson, Patti Hill, and Bonnie Grove she realized that there was room for a writer like her in Christian fiction.

Her first novels Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother's Chamomile (2014) have contemporary settings. While she loved those stories and especially the characters, Susie felt the pull toward historical fiction.

When she read Into the Free by Julie Cantrell she knew she wanted to write historical stories with a side of spunk, grit, and vulnerability. Susie is also greatly inspired by the work of Jocelyn Green, Rachel McMillan, and Tracy Groot.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. 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 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
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