Someone asked me as I was getting ready to head out to A Cup of Dust book signing how it is I met Susie Finkbeiner and I was sorta stumped.  How did I meet her?

I don’t recall.  I feel like I have known her for years.  She has even visited my farmhouse back in the day even though she is deathly afraid of chickens and knew they would be wandering around the yard all free and happy.

She is a good friend.



I think we may have met at Breathe.  I miss attending Breathe.  It is an excellent writer’s conference. It happens to fall right in the midst of football season.  I am a football mama and I need to find a way to hang out with all my friends from Breathe without actually attending Breathe.  I haven’t figured this out yet.  Also, not attending doesn’t help my writing at all either.  It’s a great writer’s conference (that was worth repeating).


Anyhow, when I found out some time back that Susie was writing a book about the Dust Bowl, I FREAKED OUT.

I may be the one person who has watched Ken Burns’ The Dust Bowl documentary on PBS twice.  Okay, nearly three times.

One time I missed part of it so I had to re-watch it.

The other time S1 was studying the Dust Bowl in school and I may have frightened his teacher when I sent a gushing email thanking them for teaching that part of history and then promptly made the boys watch it with me assuring them that S1 would receive extra credit for watching it (he didn’t).

It’s the people.  I can’t get over the people who survived that Dust Bowl part of history.  They LIVED it and I cannot fathom it.  I am totally enthralled (that sounds better than obsessed) with it all.  I have attempted to read various real life accounts on this part of history and I am always so overcome with sadness that I can not finish any memoir book.

I am a wimp and would not have survived the Dust Bowl, I am certain.

But if Susie wanted to write a book about it, I was going to be the book’s biggest fan.  I may have bordered on crazy stalker and roll your eyes annoying over this project.  I could not even find the words how to tell Susie how excited I was about it.  Did I want to research it?  Nope.  Ask her constantly how the book was coming along? I surely did!



It took me two days to read A Cup of Dust.  Those people (like the ones in book club who went with me to the pre-release signing) know that for me to read a book in two days it had to be amazingly gripping.  And I also must have been hiding from my boys.

I don’t think I will forget the first time I read A Cup of Dust because as I sat soaking up warm late afternoon sunshine watching my youngest boys play football on our green lush grass, I was reading about a girl named Pearl who couldn’t remember what green grass looked like.





Susie made the parts of Ken Burns’ The Dust Bowl come to life in the people she introduced us to.  When I start watching the documentary, I can hardly stop and it effects me and I feel it with my whole being for days after watching.



Another little fact about me is that I do not like to be scared.  Scary movies are not for me. At all.  With fall here in Michigan, corn mazes and scare forests are all over and I can’t wait for them all to be over.  I avoid conflict and anything that seems scary at all costs.

This book was scary.

I was not expecting to be scared in A Cup of Dust.  I thought it would be some heart wrenching saga of the Dust Bowl’s survivors (and it was that).  It was also scary.

I had to read it fast so that I knew what would happen and every time my husband happened to find me with my nose in the book I would say, “Oh, it’s bad.  I have to find out what happens.”

I didn’t expect a twist like this book has and it made it all the more surprising and enthralling.

Where you come from isn’t who you are.

That’s the recurring theme in the book and when I finished the book it’s the line that came back to me over and over again.

Well, after I sent  ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? THERE HAD BETTER BE A SEQUEL!!!! message to Susie.

No.  I’m not crazy stalker reader at all.




The Book PreRelease Signing day at Baker Book House has been circled in purple ink on my calendar since the day I learned about it.  I would have driven there all alone if I needed to but as it turned a big group of our library book club wanted to go as well and I totally volunteered Alice to drive and bless her heart, she did.

We arrived early and sat in the second row (see, we aren’t totally crazy! No one did sit in front of us, however.).  I wanted to jump up and down and squeal, “You did so great, Susie!  So great!” and then go into an all out in depth talk about all the characters but that would have been rude (and psycho and I don’t want a psycho named Denise in her next book) so I sat silently and grinned with the happiness I had that my friend has written the book she has had on her heart for years and finally wrote.

That is what makes this book the most special to me.  It is dear to Susie’s heart and you can feel it in the pages of the book.  She was meant to write this book.

Susie gave all kinds of things away and I was thrilled to win a cup of dust (and plant).  Julie, another book clubber who is nearly as freakish about the Dust Bowl as I am, won a copy of the book which couldn’t have been more perfect.




It was a great night.  Susie read from her first chapter of the book and graciously had photos taken with her.  I could have stayed for hours upon hours except I, and my entire group, were barely awake after having a busy day of work and errands and games and practices and dinners rushed.  But for a little while, we were a part of Susie’s world in A Cup of Dust and it was hard to break away from the strong voices of her characters voices.



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2 Responses to A Cup of Dust

  1. Oh, Denise. This is BEYOND! It made me cry a little. Thank YOU for coming to the party and making me feel so special. And thank YOU for entering into Pearl’s world with me. She deserves love, don’t you think? And you’re giving her her due. This is a most beautiful review. Thank you, my friend. You are amazing.

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