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Jul 11, 2020

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner
Bethany House/Revell June 2020
review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Five Stars All Day Long

Betty Sweet never expected to be a widow at 40. With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what's next. She couldn't have imagined what God had in mind. When her estranged sister is committed to a sanitarium, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a 5-year-old nephew she never knew she had. 
In 1960s LaFontaine, Michigan, they make an odd pair. Betty with her pink button nose and bouffant hair. Hugo with his light brown skin and large brown eyes. But more powerful than what makes them different is what they share: the heartache of an empty space in their lives. Slowly, they will learn to trust one another as they discover common ground and healing through the magic of storytelling. 
Award-winning author Susie Finkbeiner offers fans a novel that invites us to rediscover the power of story to open the doors of our hearts.

I really enjoyed the previous novel from Susie Finkbeiner so I was eager to read Stories That Bind Us. The title refers to the main character's storytelling talents that she would lean on to help get her sister through trying times and later her nephews. Betty's story is a simple one focused on family drama but the setting is an evocative one: set in the sixties with John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King trying to make a difference in the United States. 

With such a prime setting there for an amazing story, Finkbeiner instead focuses on Betty and what happens to her. While the events may not be earth shattering to many of us, it is indeed in the storytelling that weaves us into Betty's heartbreaking world and makes us love her like one of our own. Her resilience and ultimate fatigue are a mirror of ourselves but the beauty of the story and the moral lessons that can be learned are heartfelt and timely. 

Favorite Quote: "Dreams of equality, of the end to racism, that children of all colors would hold hands, that they would be brothers and sisters."

I read this novel in a day and it is one of my favorites of 2020. Themes of grief, racism and love come together beautifully in this timeless (timely?) story. I love Susie Finkbeiner's talents to make me care so much about her words and how her prose does nothing but honor the Lord. And I love her characters that I would love a sequel to see how Hugo grows up to change the world.