Book Review: The Divine Proverb of Streusel by Sara Brunsvold

  • Title: The Divine Proverb of Streusel
  • Author: Sara Brunsvold
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Christian Fiction
  • Would I recommend: Enthusiastically! Sara Brunsvold writes a compelling faith-based story, and this one has recipes, too!

Synopsis:

Shaken by her parents’ divorce and discouraged by the growing chasm between herself and her serious boyfriend, Nikki Werner seeks solace at her uncle’s farm in a small Missouri hamlet. She’ll spend the summer there, picking up the pieces of her shattered present so she can plan a better future. But what awaits her at the ancestral farm is a past she barely knows.

Among her late grandmother’s belongings, Nikki finds an old notebook filled with handwritten German recipes and wise sayings pulled from the book of Proverbs. With each recipe she makes, she invites locals to the family table to hear their stories about the town’s history, her ancestors–and her estranged father.

What started as a cathartic way to connect to her heritage soon becomes the means through which she learns how the women before her endured–with the help of their cooking prowess. Nikki realizes how delicious streusel with a healthy dollop of faith can serve as a guide to heal wounds of the past.

Happy book birthday to Sara Brunsvold! Her second novel, The Divine Proverb of Streusel, is out today!

If y’all have followed along here for a while, you know I absolutely adored Sara Brunsvold’s debut novel, The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip (see my review here). I loved it so much, I was ridiculously excited to read The Divine Proverb of Streusel. Did it live up to expectations? Read on and find out!

Nikki Werner’s world as she knew it takes one final blow when she learns—via social media, no less—that her father has gotten remarried, to the woman he divorced her mother for. Seeing her parents’ marriage fall apart so irrevocably has shaken her confidence in her relationship with her long-term boyfriend, Isaac. She thought they’d get married one day, but now, she isn’t so sure. After all, if her parents’ marriage can implode like it has, maybe she’s wrong about Isaac. And instead of talking to him and telling him about the roller coaster of emotion she’s on, she bails. She flees back to her father’s small hometown of Eddner. Her Uncle Wes, her father’s brother, is surprised to see her, but agrees that she can stay with him for the summer until she gets herself sorted out.

My heart just ached for Nikki. Sure, she’s a young adult, but seeing your dad just dump your mom for another woman can’t be easy. And to have him basically disconnect from his daughters’ lives, and then find out he’s remarried through the internet?! I couldn’t wrap my brain around that, and I could see why Nikki would take that very, very hard.

I did want to shake Nikki just a little for painting her father and Isaac with the same negative brush. There were a couple of times I wanted to yell at the book, “Just talk to him! Just answer the dang phone!” But I can’t saddle her with all the fault for the disconnect. Isaac also did his fair share of not responding and might have needed a good shake, too. (Will their relationship issues resolve satisfactorily? Read the book and find out!)

Nikki isn’t ready to talk about her father when people ask about him, but she slowly opens up to the idea of listening to the tales from those who knew him when. She also finds a book penned by her grandmother, and she begins working through the recipes in the book as her own form of therapy. She invites folks from town to try the things she makes, and in getting to know them, she learns more about her father. And in reading the notes, based on the book of Proverbs, that her grandmother jotted down, Nikki begins to understand her heritage, how the women in her family faced hard times—with faith, and through the gift of food.

I love Brunsvold’s use of stories here, both as the bridge that is slowly being restored between Nikki and her father and as the map to Nikki’s family, who she is, the legacy of her ancestors. That is genius. I wish I could find a book with my great-grandmother’s thoughts and recipes in it. What a treasure that would be.

The story is told from the point of view of Nikki and her Uncle Wes, and they’re an interesting duo. Wes is more reserved, and the events of his childhood didn’t have the same impact on him as they did on Nikki’s father, but they definitely affected the man he has become. He does his best to help Nikki understand her father, and in helping her move toward healing, he comes to realize that he may have a need for a little of that healing himself.

This book didn’t leave me a sobbing mess like Mrs. Kip did. But it has made an impression! The message that shone through most clearly for me was doing the next right thing. Taking the next step. Being willing to keep doing good when the Lord calls you to do so, and not giving up. If I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be perseverance. And I could use a little reminder to persevere sometimes.

Facing challenges, digging deep to find faith, a touch of romance (and not where you might expect it!), connecting with your roots, this book has it all. (Also, the book includes the recipes Nikki made. I want to try them all now. Y’all know how I am with recipes.) It ends on a hopeful note, but doesn’t wrap it all up in a neat little “happily ever after.” Kind of like life can be.

With The Divine Proverb of Streusel, Sara Brunsvold firmly establishes her place as one of my must-read authors. And it’s only January, but I’m already saying it: this may be one of my favorites for 2024. If you enjoy a good faith-based story with realistically written characters that will make you laugh and tear up and cheer, you need to read this one. Highly recommend.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Netgalley and Revell for an advance copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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