Stories That Bind Us

Written by Susie Finkbeiner
Review by Alice Cochran

Recently widowed, but not ready to concede to a quiet life, Betty Sweet focuses on the number one thing she’s always done right: being the world’s greatest aunt. When her estranged sister shows up on her doorstep with a nephew she never knew existed, Betty’s world is turned upside down again as she becomes Hugo’s primary caregiver. With Hugo in tow, Betty explores the fractured memories of her life, including happy ones with her late husband and foggy ones with her mother who died young. Hugo will need all the love and patience Betty has to offer, as a boy too young to grasp what has happened to his mother, and whose skin color opens him up to prejudice in rural America; it will not be easy for him to adjust. Throughout their time together, Betty uses bedtime stories as a way of communicating with the scared and shy Hugo. Betty also finds a new appreciation for the ongoing Civil Rights movement and regrets not appreciating it before knowing little Hugo.

Stories that Bind Us is a lovely story with seemingly real characters with relatable struggles. The caliber of writing is enough for the reader to feel heartbroken for Betty even by the end of the first chapter. This heartwarming tale of the connection between aunt and nephew has modern-day implications for the need to love and understand all people, not just the ones you’re related to. Recommended for storytellers and adventurers alike.