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June 1, 2020

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"Sometimes, I tried to figure out how I was so lucky to end up marrying into such an incredible family. Most of the time I realized it hadn't been luck at all.
It was nothing short of a gift."  (p18)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Stories That Bind Us
June 2020; Fleming H Revell Co; 978-0800738686
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); women's fiction
Stories That Bind Us is a beautifully written heartwarming family story that shows with love and faith, even the most severe problems can be overcome. 

At 40 years of age, Betty becomes a widow.  She was deeply in love with her husband of 23 years and didn't know how she would live her life without him.  His family was very supportive of her as she tried to find her way out of the darkness of grief.  Her sister-in-law, Marvel finally convinced her to get out of bed and out of the house.  Her 10-year-old twin nephews also helped her find herself again.  Just as she was beginning to feel more normal, her estranged sister Clara showed up at her door needing a place for her and her 5-year-old son to stay.   Betty was surprised that her sister was a mother and equally surprised that her nephew Hugo was black.  Betty never questioned her sister but made up the beds so they would both have a place to stay no matter how long they needed to.  Clara can't seem to cope with her life and begins to stay in bed all day, leaving Betty to take care of Hugo.  As she tries to help him overcome his fear and shyness, she finds that she is falling in love with the little boy.  "Don't let the scary things of the world keep you from seeing the good."

Interspersed with this story that takes place in the late 50s and early 60s, Betty tells the story of growing up, of having a mother who was manic depressive, and died in a sanitarium when Betty was 10.  She talks about how sad she and her sister were but that her father became more and more distant from them and left Betty in charge.  When it turns out that Clara is also mentally ill and goes to the hospital, Betty takes over full custody of Hugo.  She tells him beautiful stories about imaginary people and characters but they all pertain to whatever is going on in his life.  Even though she worried at first how to take care of him because she had never had any children, she soon finds out that love and faith can solve her problems.

I loved the characters in this book - not just the main characters but the secondary characters, too.  Betty is a kind and loving woman, Hugo is a delight as he learns to be a child and have fun without worrying about his mother all the time, Marvel and the twins are funny but also very protective of Hugo. And the entire Sweet family are full of love and caring for each other.  This story takes place in my home state of Michigan and these people all resemble people that I knew growing up in the 60s.  I also enjoyed the references to places like Belle Isle and it brought back a lot of memories of going there with my family.

Stories That Bind Us is a beautiful book about love and faith and family and shows that family isn't just family by blood but people that you love also become part of your family.  I loved this book and can't wait for the next book by this author.

Note: Another beautiful book by this author is A Manner of All ThingsSee review.

Buy Stories That Bind Us at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. This sounds like a wonderful story. I love the line you shared: "Don't let the scary things of the world keep you from seeing the good."

  2. i'm from michigan too and i love books that take place there. sounds like you could relate to a lot of the characters and i enjoy books like that too
    sherry @ fundinmental