A Cup of Dust: Review

Post contains affiliate links. Thanks to Kregel for a review copy.

The Dust Bowl is a phenomenon in our country’s history that interests me. It occurred in the Oklahoma/northern Texas area in the 1930s, when there were years that featured one dust storm after another, and no crops would grow. This followed years of excellent crops, and it is thought that all this farming may have played a role in causing the dust bowl situation. Anyway, I have read “The Worst Hard Time” which documents the era in an unforgettable way, and I’ve also watched the Ken Burns documentary. It surprised me that I didn’t recall learning about the Dust Bowl when I was in school.

So, when I heard about a novel based in Dust Bowl times, A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl, I was interested.

The novel is about Pearl Spence, a 10-year-old girl growing up in a typical Dust Bowl village. “We never do need Jesus until we’re some place where we can’t find Him so easy,” says Pearl’s Meemaw, and that sums up the grim reality for folks living in that place at that time.

The Good

It’s evident that the author has done her research on the era. She writes that she, too, has been fascinated by the Dust Bowl for years. Various scenes in the book would call to mind something I remembered from either the Ken Burns documentary or The Worst Hard Time.

The Other

Unfortunately, the book just never grabbed my attention. It seemed to drag on and on — somewhat like life during the Dust Bowl must have seemed to do. It’s not that there was no action in the book; there was — I’m not sure why the narrative failed to pull me in. Perhaps the author was trying to recreate the endless, dry days of that time? I’m not sure, but if I were the editor, I probably would have tried cutting the book by 20% and seeing if that helped. Also, I expected to hear more about dust storms occurring. I only recall one of those being described.

If you are intrigued by the Dust Bowl, and you enjoy historical fiction, you may want to give this book a try.

4 thoughts on “A Cup of Dust: Review

  1. I enjoyed your review about the Dust Bowl. I don’t remember ever learning anything about that time period or hearing much about it. However, I was aware of it, just don’t remember why or how. Very interesting. I certainly feel sorry for the people who had to live through it.

  2. We learned about it in Sophmore year when we read Grapes of Wrath. Remember climate wasn’t as big of a topic as it is now and ecology, soil erosion etc where just taking hold in curriculum. Ecology was super-hot in the early 70s along with pollution.

  3. Your take on this book is interesting. I know one of the editors at Kregel personally. I’m sure she wouldn’t have let a book get by that didn’t hold one’s interest. Would you be willing to email the name of the editor to me, if the author mentioned him/her?

  4. Elaine, I looked and she just thanks “the team at Kregel.” This book did kind of surprise me, because I normally really like Kregel books. I should mention as well that the reviews I’ve read are mostly pretty positive — so maybe it’s just me?? Hopewell — I too read Grapes of Wrath in school, but don’t remember a discussion about the Dust Bowl. Maybe I was spacing out when that happened 🙂 I do remember the discussions of the coming ice age! It was scary stuff.

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