A Trail of Crumbs

Written by Susie Finkbeiner
Review by Hilary Daninhirsch

A Trail of Crumbs takes place where A Cup of Dust left off. Young Pearl Spence is recovering from a traumatic incident in the dusty plains of Oklahoma during the Depression era. When a wicked dust storm comes out of nowhere, tragic consequences ensue, and Pearl contracts a serious case of dust pneumonia. The events propel the family to leave the area behind for a new start in Michigan, where they have extended family.

Despite fiercely missing some folks who were left behind, Pearl is entranced by her new green and dust-free surroundings. As a newcomer from the “foreign” lands of Oklahoma, she has trouble fitting in with her new schoolmates. Pearl soon learns that love, family and faith are the cornerstones of adapting to change.

The book is written in the first person from Pearl’s point of view; she is an introspective narrator, and one who is wise beyond her years. Pearl’s mother is a complex character; after the tragedy in Oklahoma, she withdraws even more, leaving Pearl confused and sad. Fortunately, a female family member steps in to provide the love and comfort that Pearl’s mother withholds.

The writing is solid and as compelling as the first novel, and Pearl is as charming a narrator as ever. Though in retrospect there were clues leading up to it, the ending caught me off guard and felt a bit unresolved. If readers are lucky, perhaps a third book is on the horizon.

Though the author does allude to events and circumstances that occurred in the previous book, it would be wise to read A Cup of Dust first to maximize the reading experience and to track the growth of Pearl as she comes of age in an uncertain world.