Rediscover the power of story to open the doors of our hearts
Betty Sweet never expected to be a widow at forty. With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what's next, never imagining what God had in mind.
When her estranged sister returns to town, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a five-year-old nephew she never knew she had. In 1960s small-town 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.
"Susie Finkbeiner graces us with a quiet novel about ordinary people who use storytelling to navigate a life that has become far more complicated than they wished it was. Stories That Bind Us reminds us that life is messy and love hurts sometimes--but it is always worth it."--Erin Bartels, author of We Hope for Better Things and The Words between Us "A heartbreaking, heartwarming story so fixed in real time that reading it feels like visiting some familiar past. Is there anything more wonderful than a story full of characters that take up residence in our own history? This story is a gift."--Shawn Smucker, author of the award-winning novel Light from Distant Stars
"There is a timelessness to the experience of reading Stories That Bind Us. In a voice that will be welcomed by fans of Anne Tyler, Finkbeiner creates compelling drama from the breath-to-breath moments of an ordinary life."--Allison Pittman, author of The Seamstress
Susie Finkbeiner is the CBA bestselling author of All Manner of Things, which was selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, as well as A Cup of Dust, A Trail of Crumbs, and A Song of Home. She serves on the Fiction Readers Summit planning committee, volunteers her time at Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and speaks at retreats and women's events across the country. Susie and her husband have three children and live in West Michigan.
Susie Finkbeiner has done it again - woven together a compelling, delightful, thought-provoking story with an incredible sense of place and flawed, lovable real characters. Set in the early 60's, history is delicately woven in to this story about loss, love, conflict, the power of story, sacrifice, and other timeless, and at the same time timely, issues. You will fall in love with, and no doubt relate to, Betty Sweet and Finkbeiner's wonderful cast of "ordinary" characters thrown into extraordinary circumstances. Be prepared to laugh, cry, and maybe even grumble (or worse) at the characters as they experience life with all its joys and sorrows. A delightful, emotional , hopeful read well worth every word.. Stories That Bind Us is a must-read.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for purpose of review.
Susie Finkbeiner has done it again! This book introduces you to characters you wish were your real friends and neighbors while weaving in historical events from the early 1960s. I especially appreciated the way she dealt with the mental health issues of one of the characters as well as the way that affected the people who loved her. You will experience a wide range of emotions reading Stories That Bind Us, but ultimately you will feel an overwhelming sense of hope.
"Just along the horizon I saw the birth of the morning. This was the gift God had for me right that moment. I saw hope."
This passage struck me, I live this daily. Each and every morning I I say "thank you to God for giving me another day and for whatever that day brings". Each day is a gift, each day brings renewed hope.
Susie writes such great books about families and you will fall in love with the Sweet family and their small town life amidst some incredible historical events. Susie has a track record for tackling tough subjects... Cancer, the Vietnam war, the Dust Bowl, and more. And now, race and prejudice, mental illness, and a young widow. Despite writing about subjects that would lead one to expect her books might be dark and depressing, they are not. The overall message is always one of hope! Susie weaves together amazing stories of families and the Sweet family and their stories will stay with you for a very long time. I loved the character of Betty and I loved that Betty told such a wonderful stories! I love Betty's strength, her compassion, her patience. Hugo melted my heart and Dick and Nick captured my heart. I loved reading about so many places that I have visited! I really enjoyed reading all ofthe kitchy language and terms from that era. Pedal pushers and Bermuda shorts, girdles, and so many other fun references! I found it difficult to put this book down and yet, I wanted to delay the inevitable, that I would finish this book. I didn't want it to end! Stories that bind us has all the feels, I laughed and cried, each more than once. I was a bit angry on one or two occasions at the Injustice! And my heart was warmed by the consistent message of love and hope.
"There once was a turtle named Sam. . . He lived near a river filled with crayfish and frogs and minnows. . . . .but even as wonderful and special as that riverside was, Sam was too afraid to enjoy it."
Isn't it true that a well told story possesses a certain impression of artistry? Stories paint pictures, while their canvases store memories in an easy-to-open vault; available at just the right times, . . .perhaps, when a heart is heavy or a pair of sorrowful eyes need a touch of brightening. Or a loved one just needs to have something to remember. And just like flour blends the ingredients of a beloved family recipe into a well formed loaf of bread, a story has the uncanny ability to "bind us" together, forever.
There are those in this book who need these special kinds of stories; a grieving wife, an unstable mother, a terrified little boy, a kind, shy man and family members who are grieving the loss of one of their own. So often remembering is loving, and being loved resides at the heart of every good story.
What a remarkable book, written by an author who writes simply enough to form everyday people into outstanding characters.
I received this book from Baker Publishing through Interviews and Reviews.