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Pearl Spence #2

A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression

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"I believed it would have been a sin to stay inside when God had sent us such fine weather. According to Pastor Ezra Anderson, sin was the reason we'd got in the dusty mess we were in. The way I saw it, that day was God's way of letting us know He wasn't mad at us anymore. Just maybe He'd seen fit to forgive us."

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 the end of her beautiful day signals the beginning of the end of her secure life.

Now her family is fleeing their Oklahoma wasteland. Pearl isn't sure she'll ever see home or happiness again. Are there any crumbs 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, sure to please her many fans.

312 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2017

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About the author

Susie Finkbeiner

10 books770 followers
Susie Finkbeiner is the author of The Nature of Small Birds, Stories That Bind Us, and All Manner of things which was selected as a Michigan Notable Book. The All-American is her ninth novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 117 reviews
Profile Image for Taury.
553 reviews122 followers
April 7, 2023
A Trail of Crumbs by Susie Finkbeiner is the 2nd in her 3 book series starting with the dust bowl and this book covers the depression. Much slower and less engaging than her first book.
After the Dust storm the Spencer family moves from Oklahoma to Michigan. The family continues to mend their hearts and try to make a new life in Michigan was difficult and slow. The family still has a lot to heal from.
Pearl and her mom
Ray and his mom
Mrs Spencer and Beanie.
Profile Image for Beth.
783 reviews320 followers
April 3, 2017
Since finishing A Cup of Dust, the first part of Pearl Spence’s story, I’ve been eager to get back into her world. A Trail of Crumbs is as poignant, compelling and heartfelt as its predecessor. Pearl’s character has grown-up a bit, however, she is still as vibrant and as much of a kindred spirit as ever. Though the story opens with tragedy and deals with some heavy topics, I never bogged down with unnecessary heartache. Pearl’s voice is strong and consistent, making this second book another winner for those who love coming-of-age stories. This story touches on realistic family struggles, as well as Pearl’s desire for a sense of belonging and a home. As children tend to do, she blames herself for things that happen around her, but still hopes for reconciliation and peace.

Through Pearl’s eyes, readers see the best and worst in the other characters, but as a child, she is quick to forgive and wants desperately to see the good in everyone. The secondary characters are people you would love to know in real life, ones you might even recollect from your own life and made all the more realistic because of it. Some are new and beloved additions to the story, like Uncle Gus and Aunt Carrie, and others are dears that journey on with Pearl, like her best friend, Ray.

One of the things that impressed me most about the story is the way the historical elements blend in seamlessly with the narrative. The subtitle tells us that this story is a novel of the Great Depression. The writing style brings out details of the time period realistically and organically, with simple yet deftly placed details, such as conversations about newspaper articles and customers asking for a bit more credit on their account at the general store. Finkbeiner excels at showing the reader what life was like then, showing us how the people of Bliss were tightening their belts and making do, rather than simply telling the reader this is so.

There are so many gorgeous passages I read over, and I know I’ll read them again when I want to remember the beauty of Pearl’s world. I admit, I read this as slowly as I could because I dreaded the long wait for the last part of Pearl’s story. She is such an effervescent character; she makes me laugh and brings tears to my eyes, and I was sorry to tell her goodbye for now. I joyed with her as she found bits of happiness along the way, and I ached with her when her heart ached. I’m so looking forward to seeing what happens to Pearl and the Spence family next. A Trail of Crumbs is a book that I am truly not eloquent enough to explain just how much I love it. All I can say is, books like this remind me of why I fell in love with reading in the first place. Highly recommended to readers of historical fiction and coming-of-age stories.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was under no obligation to post a review, positive or otherwise. This review is my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Jamie Lapeyrolerie .
512 reviews118 followers
March 30, 2017
“Hope was such a pretty word.”

When done well, I enjoy a story told from a different perspective than what we normally see, like that of a child. After Susie Finkbeiner’s first in this series, A Cup of Dust, I knew she would be one to watch. I was excited to hear the story continued and couldn’t wait to dive into this next one. It did not disappoint.

With her latest, Finkbeiner has shown us how her voice and writing continues to get better and better. As I mentioned, I enjoyed her debut, but this one had me even more fully engaged. With an authentic child’s point of view (y’all she had me cracking up sometimes!), Finkbeiner brought to light important issues through her young voice.

There were hard things to deal with and no sugarcoat of what was the reality for many. I love what she did with it. Plus this wasn’t just a story about Pearl’s experiences, but also very much what it was like for adults. The hurts, the pain, the feeling of helplessness. It’s deep, honest and real.

“Some of the best things we do ain’t remembered by anybody but God.”

“Seemed to me, if angels came to earth hoping to test the kindness of humans, they wouldn’t come dressed in white and with their wings hanging out for all creation to see. No, I figured they’d come in everyday clothes, maybe with a little dirt under their fingernails.”

“If I had my chance to write the story I would’ve made it so Miss Ross used dye laced with poison on the fabric so she might use it to kill off at least a couple of the red coats. Why they’d have their hands on the American flag, I don’t know. That was something I’d have to work out later.” See, Pearl cracks me up! Reminds me of Scout.

It looks like there’s book three coming, but I’m still satisfied with this ending. True to life, but I’m for sure looking forward to the next one!

What’s a favorite story of yours with a young POV?

(Thank you to the author for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Originally posted at http://booksandbeverages.org/2017/03/...
Profile Image for Jocelyn Green.
Author 30 books1,312 followers
March 22, 2017
I read somewhere that drama isn't necessarily when the characters in a novel cry, but when the reader cries. A Trail of Crumbs would make an excellent case study of this point.

Not that the characters never cried, because they did, and for good reason. What I mean is that through the child protagonist's point of view, we watch and experience a heartache born of the Great Depression which can be felt much more poignantly than mere words can describe. This is one of Susie Finkbeiner's greatest strengths--that she can evoke a mood, an ambience, a tide of emotions just below the surface of the printed page. It was the understated that undid me more than anything else possibly could have.

Having adored the first book in this series, I was eager to read this one, and I'm so impressed with how the narrative voice is consistent with the first book, and yet exhibits character growth, as well. That's no small feat to accomplish. Fans of A Cup of Dust will not be disappointed with A Trail of Crumbs. The only trouble is waiting for the conclusion to come in A Song of Home. I'm sure those who love Pearl Spence will feel the very same way. Bring us all home, Susie Finkbeiner!
Profile Image for Amelia.
Author 3 books57 followers
March 20, 2017
I couldn't wait to see how Pearl's story would play out, yet at the same time I wanted to read slowly and make it last. Finkbeiner's writing is meant to be savored. Read slowly and thoughtfully to let the depth of meaning and richness of the story sink in. I wasn't ready to leave Pearl's world and cannot wait for the final installment of her journey. This is Finkbeiner's finest work to date. The characters are fully developed, you'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll appreciate Pearl's journey to find home. So many rich lines like "I could've watched Mama standing out in the rain all day long. God was the God of contentment. That was so. But just then with mama smiling so wide, I thought he might just be the God of wild out of control happiness too."
Profile Image for Heather Gilbert.
Author 36 books754 followers
April 14, 2017
A gem of historical fiction, this novel perfectly captured both the desperation and the community support system that existed during the Great Depression. The main character, Pearl Spence, had totally won my heart in book 1, A Cup of Dust, but in this book, we see how life is molding her into the young woman she'll become. I love spending time in Pearl's "head" (since this is written in first POV)--it takes me back to my childhood and reminds me of the innocence, yet the heavier events we have to deal with along the way--and Pearl had more than her share. A new character in this one was Aunt Carrie, and I absolutely adored her spunk. I cannot WAIT for the third book in this series!
Profile Image for Joleen.
2,114 reviews1,211 followers
May 8, 2020
What a difficult time for a child of 10 to live — the Great Depression and the dust bowl to name some big ones. Poverty and tornadoes take Pearl's family through one tragedy to a new life in Michigan for her health, with a new set of issues. But I love the way Pearl brings out her positive attitude, often when she's remembering words of wisdom from Meemaw.

Then life takes another turn which challenges that positive attitude. But God blessed her with a loving daddy, a best friend in Ray, an uncle and aunt who are a comfort, and a new friend in Opal who would help bolster the crumbling foundation.

The ending was more like a story leading to the next book, so this didn’t quite feel like a stand alone.

Very well written and worth a read.
Profile Image for Cheryl Barker.
Author 1 book96 followers
June 22, 2017
While reading the first few chapters of this book, I wasn't sure I was going to like it because it seemed rather bleak and sad, but the characters soon wrapped themselves around my heart and I was hooked. An emotional yet heartwarming read in many regards. I did feel at loose ends with the way the story ended so am looking forward to reading more of Pearl's story when A Song of Home comes out next year. I would like to know what's going to happen! :)
Profile Image for Staci.
1,782 reviews540 followers
June 10, 2018
Sweet continuation of Pearl's story. The writing is beautiful and Pearl's voice brings the story to life.

I loved that the author shared in the afterward which CF authors have impacted her writing and that it was Into the Free by Julie Cantrell that shifted her writing from contemporary to historical.

I look forward to reading the conclusion to Pearl's story.
Profile Image for Maureen Timerman.
2,870 reviews474 followers
June 24, 2017
The second book in this series, and like the first you will not be able to put this read down, and although it opens with a tragedy, and ends with their lives up in the air, but there is another book to come.
After the devastation that hits the Spencer family, they head to Michigan and a new and greener life, after all that dust I can just imagine how they felt when then put their toes on grass. What a transformation, food and rain, and promise of a new life.
While they seem ready to move on, the past and hurts still linger and at times the grief is over whelming, but these are people who wear their faith on their sleeve, and so I had a problem with one of them. Will they ever be whole again?
We also have Ray who has been able to move North with the family, but has never let his hope of his Mother coming for him die.
This is still Susie’s story and it all told from her perspective and we are with her for her milestone eleventh birthday, and what an eleventh birthday it is. Who wouldn’t want this child as their own, and her parents have really done a wonderful job so far. She has so much compassion for mankind and as we read this we are reminded of her meemaw, and what a great influence she was in Susie’s life, and we remember her from the first book.
I personally cannot wait for the next book in this series, I loved this read.

I received this book through Kregel Blogger Tour, and was not required to give a positive review.
Profile Image for Katherine Jones.
Author 2 books74 followers
March 24, 2017
Nobody writes like Susie Finkbeiner, nobody. Her incomparable narrative voice pulls me in, every time. Combine that with unforgettable characters, a top-notch concept along with the writing chops to execute it, and you’ve got an unparalleled story on your hand. And quite possibly an award-winning one as well. {Feel free to quote me on that.}

In this sequel to A Cup of Dust, Pearl lives on, bringing with her inimitable take on life. I find her as endearing as a couple of other well-loved young heroines — Anne of Green Gables comes to mind, or Laura of Little House on the Prairie — though she possesses slightly more worldliness and considerably more grit.

Evocative and poignant with strong themes of home and belonging, Pearl’s is a well-paced story to let yourself sink into. I recommend you do just that.

Thanks to Kregel Publications for providing me this book free of charge. All opinions are mine.
Profile Image for Heather Gilbert.
Author 36 books754 followers
April 27, 2017
A gem of historical fiction, this novel perfectly captured both the desperation and the community support system that existed during the Great Depression. The main character, Pearl Spence, had totally won my heart in book 1, A Cup of Dust, but in this book, we see how life is molding her into the young woman she'll become. I love spending time in Pearl's "head" (since this is written in first POV)--it takes me back to my childhood and reminds me of the innocence, yet the heavier events we have to deal with along the way--and Pearl had more than her share. A new character in this one was Aunt Carrie, and I absolutely adored her spunk. I cannot WAIT for the third book in this series! Susie Finkbeiner is definitely one of my fave authors.
Profile Image for Joy.
Author 1 book21 followers
May 1, 2019
I'm in love with this series. I enjoy how strongly these characters are developed. It's so easy to know them, love them, disagree with them or misunderstand them. Rich characters living in a good solid story. What's not to love?! Can't wait to read the next!
Profile Image for Lori.
1,773 reviews84 followers
March 2, 2017
Oh my gosh!!! This book definitely deserves 5 stars!! It's a spellbinder from the very beginning!
And best of all, it's told in 1st person genere.
Susie is fabulous story teller and writes with a style all her own!!
I thoroughly enjoyed Pearl's coming of age story. Many times there were places placed in the book where I felt like could relate to her. Especially since she loves books!!!! Books can take you to many a places. I'm an avid reader myself. Books are my best friends.
There were places in this book that I wanted to cry right along with Pearl.
I wanted to reach through the pages to pick Pearl right up and hold her and comfort her just like she would be the daughter I never had.
Pearl is a delightful character. She is like me in many ways. I love her spunk and she has the right attitude to get her through her worst days. She does have a best friend in Ray.
I was so glad that he came along.
Friends can be there for you in your time of need.
Sometimes change is good. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes it comes when u least expect it and that to me is hard to accept. I usually do not like change even when it is for good.
I think if I were to have an aunt and uncle I'd want them to be like Aunt Carrie and Uncle Gus. They're two pretty special people in my opinion.
I was glad that Pearl had Aunt Carrie and Opal who helps out sometimes
I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be living and breathing dust all the time.
We were out in Utah one year and seen a sign that said beware of sand storms but it probably wasn't like the Dust Bowl years.
I think if my grandparents were still living they could tell me about the Dust Bowl years since they lived in that time.
I strongly recommend this book for people who love reading historical books.
I received a complimentary copy and was in no way required to review this book
Profile Image for Pearl Allard.
7 reviews2 followers
March 23, 2017
Five stars from a reader who doesn’t even like historical fiction

It’s hard for me to care about history and dates. (I’m sure it’s a glaring character flaw, but there you have it.) My last brushes with historical fiction were in junior high. The last I remember, historical fiction was really a thin disguise for a textbook, and the love and faith portrayed seemed only for the morally perfect - not for the everyday folk. (You may commence rotten tomato throwing at my 12-year old self. Perhaps if I reread those unnamed books now, I'd think differently.)

This series is NOT like that impression my younger self remembered. But it took a thoughtful 10-year old with my name, Pearl, to take me by the hand and gently lead me into the pages of history to try again. Who can resist a kid?

Real family. Real struggles. Real hope-filled faith. These themes drew me into A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl and carried me along in the sequel A Trail of Crumbs: A Novel of the Great Depression by Susie Finkbeiner. I gave A Cup of Dust five stars, but I liked A Trail of Crumbs even more!

The author crafted lovable and realistically flawed characters that walked off the stage into my heart. Because I had the emotional and spiritual connections, I was free to care about the historical ones. I cared about the economics and politics because I cared about Pearl and her family and all the unknowns they faced as they headed to Michigan out of Oklahoma, the only place they’d ever called home.

Two of my favorite quotes are:

Chapter 5 p. 55
(Millard the grandfather figure talking to Pearl after she’s discharged from the hospital)

“You remember my comin’ up to see you?”
I told him I didn’t.
“Didn’t figure. You was in and out, up and down. I was sure worried about you. We all were.” He put a piece of the candy in his own cheek. “I come a couple times to sit with you.”
“I’m sorry I don’t remember,” I said.
“Nah. Don’t bother me none. Wasn’t there to be remembered.” He put an arm around my shoulders. “Some of the best things we do ain’t remembered by anybody but God.”

Chapter 21 p. 181
“I can’t believe you got me out here,” she yelled.
“It’s nice, isn’t it?” Aunt Carrie asked.
Those two grown women stood in the grass and let the water fall all over them. I could have watched Mama standing out in the rain all day long.
God was the God of contentment. That was so.
But just then, with Mama smiling so wide, I thought He might just be the God of wild, out-of-control happiness, too.
It did me some good to think on that.

Even if you aren’t typically a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend both A Cup of Dust and A Trail of Crumbs.
Profile Image for Sara.
403 reviews
June 20, 2021
Based on the experience of a young girl's demise during The Depression, this is an excellent book for those young readers whose grandparents lived the the Dust Bowl.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
1,902 reviews106 followers
May 27, 2017
"Once you go, you can't never get back."

Pearl Spence is a survivor; for she has survived more tragedy than most ten year old girls could even imagine, much less endure; and trying to see "how all things work together for the good of those who love God", according to her beloved Meemaw; is getting harder and harder for Pearl to believe. When the unthinkable occurs, she and her family are forced to relocate, leaving the dust blown town of Red River, Oklahoma far behind, while they struggle to embrace the friendly community of Bliss, Michigan as their new home.

The love of her family has always provided Pearl's tender heart with a measure of certainty; naturally, when grief exposes a deep fissure in that stability, Pearl is left wondering whether or not a "trail of crumbs" is enough to lead anyone back home.

Susie Finkbeiner has beautifully heightened her readers' expectations, for this second installment in her "Pearl Spence" series is just as lovely as the first, giving a poignant glimpse into the era now known as the "Great Depression".
Profile Image for Amy.
104 reviews3 followers
March 3, 2017
Wow! Just...wow! Words fall short to convey how much I love this book. It's not often I connect with characters so deeply as I connected with Pearl and her family. This story broke my heart in so many ways, but it also started putting the broken bits back together with the superglue of love. Pearl Spence makes me chuckle, she makes me cry, she makes me want to wrap her up in my arms and assure her all will be well. I can't wait to read the third book to find out how her story ends!
Profile Image for Sue.
667 reviews
April 10, 2017
Author 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.
Profile Image for Melinda.
Author 6 books62 followers
June 13, 2017
If you're like me, you prefer unique non-formulaic fiction. When you read a Depression-era story that begins in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, you're not going to get the norm. I was not disappointed. The story is told from the first-person perspective of Pearl Spence, a ten year old girl, and from the opening pages it is apparent that she has already lived a hard and tragic life. This coming-of-age story is the sequel to A Cup of Dust, a book I must now read to ferret out more details about Pearl's tragedies.

The author does an amazing job getting inside the head of her young protagonist, narrating her life events exactly as a ten year old would perceive them. When unspeakable acts occur, there are no words. When past tragedies haunt her daily activities, they are alluded to with the avoidance, confusion, and missing pieces a young girl would experience. Yet you, the reader, know.

The author's vivid descriptions of Dust Bowl Oklahoma, where the story begins, are the best I have ever read. When a dust storm overwhelms the populace, filling their homes and lungs with dirt and striking down characters we love, you understand why people gathered up their families and fled the state. The characterization of the social norms, church style of the Great Depression, small town expectations, and backstories of the characters drew me in. I rooted for them. I wanted things to go well for Pearl.

But remember, this is not a formulaic story. You will not get a happily ever after. Instead, you will come away understanding what happens to people when there is financial lack, loss of family social structure, unspeakable acts committed against children, and natural disaster. When all of these combine, as they often do on our messy planet, everything falls apart at once. And yet, Jesus is there. This is a Christian story written with a light, gracious, and hope-filled hand, illuminating Pearl's childlike faith.

I applauded Pearl's strength, her tenacity, and her feisty character. This type of literature gives a necessary view of what is surely the norm in our world. This isn't Eden, after all, and most of humankind experiences tragedy. If you want to enlarge your capacity for compassion, this story will do it. And, at the same time, you'll encounter a young heroine who will inspire you to keep going no matter what, even if you must chop off your hair and wear boys' pants to do so.
Profile Image for Lisa Johnson.
2,629 reviews36 followers
April 10, 2017
Title: A Trail of Crumbs (A Novel of the Great Depression)
Author: Susie Finkbeiner
Pages: 320
Year: 2017
Publisher: Kregel
My rating 5 out of 5 stars.
The first novel I read by Susie Finkbeiner was A Cup of Dust, which is a story of the dust bowl, and it was really good. Now, she presents a story that brings some of the characters from the other book into a new story, which is set during the great depression. Now don’t think that Susie focuses on the Great Depression; she leads us on a journey where her characters must leave the Dust Bowl to go to another state. There is where the family, having recently lost a child and asked to raise another by a friend, must learn life in a new county while grieving and adjusting to life without dust everywhere.
There were many surprises in the book and I thought for sure the author was going to take the story in a certain direction that seemed like a good idea at least to me. However, the author leads us to understand true family and what it can be based on and learning to put one foot in front of the other when unexpected choices are made that impact the heart of the main character, Pearl Spence. At this time, she is just a young girl who has gone through so much abandonment and has questions galore while learning how reading can help her cope in daily life.
The church the Spencers go to is nothing like they are used to, but Pearl likes how this preacher speaks and the way he shares truth from the Bible. Pearl’s aunt encourages her imagination and helps her explore the wonderful world of various stories. I loved the aunt for her carefree, loving and accepting heart which Pearl needed desperately.
I sat down to read the book thinking it would take me days to get through when I found myself unable to put it down and completed it in one sitting. I was pulled in by the heart, emotions and circumstances described in the tale and how Pearl’s grandmother had deposited so many nuggets of wisdom in Pearl’s heart when she was alive. What a beautiful example of how our words and actions may not seem to make a difference at the moment, but later can blossom into hope in the heart of a listener!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 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.”
1,667 reviews
April 14, 2017
A Trail of Crumbs continues the story of Pearl Spence and her family about four months after the events that took place in A Cup of Dust. Again we see life through young Pearl’s life, a ten year old girl growing up in the time of the dust bowl, the Great Depression, a time of desperation for most people. I thoroughly enjoyed the first novel and looked forward to their continuing story.

Wow. There are some things that happen in this book that really took me by surprise. The author knows this time period and writes it as if this family is real and we are reading the diary of this young girl with all the fears and raw emotions she has. Pearl and her family have faced one tragedy after another and to some it has made them stronger and others it has made them weaker. The author writes about a difficult path and shows us timely lessons where grief can weaken us and make temptation all that stronger to turn away from. Again I appreciate the author’s sensitivity to history and writes the facts in a way that feels very authentic.

I am not sure how I feel about how this story left off. I am anticipating the next in the continuing story of Pearl and her family- hopefully certain story lines will be resolved and I would like to see how Pearl turns out as a young woman after all she has been through. I also liked how Pearl had to remember what was True and what was a lie in regards to her and her family’s love for her. I think all of us can take that to heart when we are faced with lies that want to sneak in versus the Truth we know deep down about our heavenly Father’s love for us. Impressive story-telling.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.

Profile Image for Joan.
3,734 reviews70 followers
April 10, 2017
Finkbeiner has written an interesting novel of the Depression and Dust Bowl era. The harsh events of the time are seen through the eyes of Pearl, a ten year old . This book is a sequel to A Cup of Dust. While this book reads well on its own I would highly suggest A Cup of Dust be read before this one.

After a devastating tragedy, Pearl's family makes the long journey from Oklahoma to Michigan to start a new life. The location change does not alleviate the effects of the family tragedy and Pearl finds her life changed forever.

The first novel was a good one on the depression and its effect on family life. This novel centers more on a tragedy and how it changes the family. We are along with Pearl as she experiences unsettling events and the resulting pain. There is a little about Depression era experiences in Michigan but the novel is more a coming of age story.

Finkbeiner reveals in an afterward that this novel is a reflection of her own experiences visiting the southeastern Michigan farming community as a child, riding the tractor with her Grandmother Pearl's cousin. Her grandmother is long gone but memories remain, captured in part in this novel. I recommend it as a good coming of age story of the Depression era. Discussion Questions are included for use in a reading group.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
Profile Image for Kate Loveton.
221 reviews12 followers
February 26, 2019
The second volume of the Pearl Spence trilogy doesn’t disappoint. I would love to see these books adapted for television. The author shows a deep understanding, affection and compassion for her characters.

I don’t want to give too many hints as to what occurs in this continuation of the story of Pearl and her family as they make the hard decision to leave Oklahoma for Michigan. After the dusty, depressed Oklahoma town in which they lived, Michigan is a green paradise where it rains regularly and no dangerous dust storms destroy people. The town is well named: Bliss.

Just as you always drag a bit of home with you wherever you go, Red River, Oklahoma is still in Pearl’s heart, and she misses the people she had to leave behind. She also misses the loving, happy mama she knew in Red River. Pearl’s mother grows more enigmatic and unhappy the farther the family gets from the old town, creating uncertainty for a little girl who has already experienced so much trauma. Pearl faces two major heartaches in this second book, forcing her to grapple with feelings beyond her 11 years.

Wonderful book. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Karin.
1,409 reviews13 followers
May 30, 2019
This book continues the story of Pearl Spence in 1935 as her grieving family moves from the dust bowl of Oklahoma to Michigan in the wake of Pearl's recovery from a nearly fatal case of dust pneumonia and the death of her older sister in a dust storm. While Uncle Gus and his wife are warm and welcoming, Pearl is not only homesick and grieving, but having to cope with her mother suffering acute depression. Her friend Ray them because his mother found a job in another state and cannot take him along. She also has to deal with her mother's racism toward Opal, a woman they hire to help her out on Pearl's request.

Although the protagonist is eleven, this is not a young/adult novel.
362 reviews17 followers
October 31, 2017
Sometimes we just need a little reminder that no matter what is happening in our lives there is always hope.
90 reviews
December 6, 2019
This is the 2nd Pearl Spence novel. I love Susie Finkbeiner's books. I feel that I am a part of her stories. This one was no exception. Although this was written about the depression time period, the life situations and struggles of Pearl are timeless.
Profile Image for Mary Kenyon.
Author 11 books115 followers
April 15, 2020
A new favorite author. This is the second book in this series and now I have to get a hold of the third! Couldn't put it down and finished in one sitting.
Profile Image for Faith.
110 reviews
July 10, 2021
A good continuation to Pearl’s story, however, I found the segments of daydreaming were much too much. The storyline was well designed, however the daydreaming episodes were just fluff. I did not care for all the unresolved ‘issues’ left when the book abruptly ended.
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