Author: Sara Brunsvold
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: January 16, 2024
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 the past--one 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 and a healthy dollop of faith.
Reviewer: Adriann Harris
I have been reading books for over six decades now, and The Divine Proverb of Streusel ranks among the top few that I would put on my list of books to read again. Through the years, I have found that when authors write about what they know, it comes out in their writing. Sara Brunsvold did just that! Writing about her own personal experience dealing with her parents divorce and her own family ancestry served as the inspiration for this novel.
This heartfelt story was filled with recipes from a cookbook by great-grandma Lena Schoenborn with thought-provoking messages. At the beginning of each recipe, Grandma shares pearls of wisdom derived from proverbs and her own personal experiences in life. With the faith brought forth in the cookbook and from those around her, Nikki grows in faith herself.
The Divine Proverb of Streusel is a beautiful story of finding your place in a family you barely know and finding your legacy. A story dealing with anger, bitterness, forgiveness, healing, how to move forward, wisdom, and faith is so well written by this author that I could not put it down. I, for one, cannot wait to read what Sara Brunsvold writes next.
I received a complimentary copy from Revell via Interviews and Reviews through NetGalley for an honest review. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review, and all opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Rob Seabrook
Another delightful novel from Sara Brunsvold. This is the story of Nikki, who suffers what can be best described as a relationship crisis: being let down by her father and uncertain of a deeper commitment to her boyfriend, which opens generational wounds that need healing.
She escapes for a summer break, where there is a charming relationship that develops between her and her uncle, who is a gateway to her discovering more of her family history. The stories are supported by newly discovered old family recipes, with the cooking leading her through her journey of making peace with the past and the future.
It is food therapy, linking past wisdom with present situations. When each recipe was written down, it was blended with a key verse from the book of Proverbs. The food and the scriptures minister together, intertwined.
One thing you will always get from one of Sara's novels is a deep understanding of the characters and their relationships, seeing their doubts, fears, and motivations as their lives are revealed. She writes in a way that allows the reader to empathise, befriend, and, by the end, feel they are people who you would really like to have as long-standing friends.
It is a story of how some of the good, wholesome things in life, like scripture, family, and food, can bring healing to the emotional challenges that life can throw at us. Faith is a strong backbone to this story of healing and reconciliation, inherited from a strong family tradition and ever-present.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Revell through NetGalley and Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Conny Withay
“Each crumble fell into place accompanied by prayer, as the divine proverb of streusel had enjoined,” Nikki acknowledges in Sara Brunsvold’s novel, The Divine Proverb of Streusel.
This three-hundred-and-thirty-six-page paperback targets those who like fiction that focuses on dealing with overcoming bitterness and disappointment, especially as it relates to family. With no profanity but the topic of death, it may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes the author’s note, a sneak peek at a prior book of the writer, acknowledgments, biography, and advertisements. Several German recipes are provided within the chapters.
In this current-day story based mainly in rural Missouri, twenty-six-year-old Nikki Werner is unable to move forward in her life, mainly because she is mad at her father and wavering about her love life. Fleeing to the family farm, she agrees to help her uncle update an old farmhouse. When she finds 4 old books, including one with handwritten German recipes and Proverbial sayings that have been handed down over generations, she takes it to task to make the concoctions as she slowly heals from her past wounds.
This is a tender story that blends making German foods with learning to do the next thing of forgiving and loving one another. I enjoyed the recipes and how they mixed the act of cooking with dealing with life and its shortcomings. The correlation of butter with forgiveness seasoned the tasty tale.
Those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ may not care for the prayers, Bible verses, and Christian overtones. Others may find the protagonist self-centered, thinking of herself only and rarely considering others, yet that is part of the story. The lack of commitment was not always believable in one of the characters.
Since it is a Christian read, I wish the plan of eternal salvation were given. I prefer all pronouns of God capitalized for reverence.
If you love a generational tale that stirs the heart while offering forgiveness, this one butters away bitterness and loneliness.
Thanks to Revell for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.
Reviewer: Paula Shreckhise
“You can either look at what you don’t have and yearn, or you can look at what you have and give thanks.”
"Work—the next thing—and butter conspired to heal all wounds.”
This was a fabulous book with so much packed within its pages: wonderful old German recipes along with sage advice and spiritual lessons.
I connected with the story because it authentically depicted the Lutheran faith and my German roots. The story was well plotted and paced. Nikki was a young woman who had experienced heartache and grew with the example of her Uncle Wes at the old family farm through the renovation of her ancestral farmhouse. She also gained spiritual insight from her Great-Aunt Emma through emails as well as from a journal/recipe book written by her great-grandmother.
Everything about this beautifully written book was special.
“Stories are the universal heart language. They bring together what is scattered.”
“Seems family history is one of the most intimate object lessons we can receive.”
A fitting follow-up to her debut novel. I want to read more from Sara Brunsvold.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Revell through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Elizabeth Rucker
This book was good, but it missed some parts. This book was definitely more about a father-daughter relationship being mended than a romantic relationship, and to me, that was disappointing.
The reconciliation that came for the main couple was disappointing. I wanted more. I needed more. I have a lot of questions. I can’t ask them without spoiling anything.
Wes and Joyce. They are the cutest ever. I relate to their relationship. My husband is very much like Wes. I loved their character development. The way that Sara Brunsvold used God in this was very good! I enjoyed the sentiment about trusting in Jesus and that it was important to the characters. I wish that we got to see more of this with Nikki and her growth and character development.
I love Wes, though! The way that he talks about God in his thoughts and the way that he prays gives a perfect example of what a godly man should look like.
Side note: There was a death in this book that didn’t need to be in it. I usually like a little bit of sorrow in some books, but it was almost as if it was thrown in. I was sad about the death, but the character was also random. I’m not sure if it gave importance to the story.
The heritage stuff was cool. It was neat to see Nikki bond through her ancestry, but it wasn’t really something that I was blown away by. The cover is gorgeous! I would recommend this book to someone who may have a burdened relationship with their father.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Ewurabena Wilson
This novel truly affirms that the writing of Christian novels is meant to be a ministry on its own.
Sara Brunsvold’s The Divine Proverb of Streusel is like a meal prepared by the Divine Chef Himself. Set in the town of Eddner, Missouri, this novel has all the ingredients to make it a masterpiece: unforgettable characters, a well-developed plot, and themes that tug at the heart.
Nikki Werner is a young woman struggling to come to terms with the divorce and subsequent remarriage of her father. An impulsive decision lands her at the doorstep of her paternal uncle Wesley ‘Wes’ Werner. The two embark on a project to remodel Werner's farmhouse, leading to the discovery of an extraordinary cook book that helps bring healing to a broken woman’s heart.
One thing that stood out for me in this novel is the incorporation of food recipes and nuggets from the book of Proverbs in the Bible. Never have I read a novel that has spoken to me like this. The characters of the novel were so relatable, with even the minor characters like Aunt Emma and Joyce leaving a mark in my heart.
Sara Brunvold has done an awesome job of blending romance, forgiveness, scriptures, food recipes, farm life, and pain to create a delightful novel worth reading. This is the first novel I have read from this author, and I cannot wait to read her other works.
For anyone who wants to read a novel that will challenge their faith and cause them to want to whip up German recipes, this is a novel for you.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Bethany House through NetGalley and Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Marie Edwards
Sara Brunsvold captured my attention with her debut, The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip, so I definitely wanted to read this book. With a title that came off as something fun and upbeat, I was definitely looking forward to this one.
This wasn’t a bad book, by any means. It wasn’t one that wowed me, though. The recipes sounded good, and I loved the proverbs with them.
Once again, Brunsvold created complicated and multi-dimensional characters that almost leapt off the page and became real people.
Like her first book, this was just as well written and introspective. I loved when one character stated, “Sometimes we have to look back to find the way forward." There was also the lesson of love being shown in actions, which deeply resonated with me as I was raised to believe actions speak louder than words.
The author also included an interesting history lesson about Americanizing many names during immigration, and in this case, German ones. Certainly around 1939 and likely for many decades after, most people wanted to disassociate from Germany given what happened.
Despite all the good things, Nikki was one of my biggest issues with this book. The divorce of one’s parents, at any age, can be traumatic. But, given that she was 26 and a teacher, I found it difficult to relate to her. At times, her attitude came off as childish. I was four when my parents divorced, and I handled it much better. As a side note, my mother turned 25 three months after I was born, so Nikki, at 26, was old enough to be a mother. Likely why I was shocked at her attitude.
Like Nikki’s father, mine remarried right after the divorce was final. I never saw him again (his choice). In that tiny respect, I related to her when she felt like she didn’t matter. As an adult, she should be able to move on better than a 4-year-old, though.
I also had a slight problem with the timeline of the remarriage. According to the story, Nikki’s father left the family four months earlier, and the story begins with his remarriage (first page). Depending on the state and type of divorce, four months from filing (saying he filed when he left) to finalization seemed a bit questionable.
Despite those issues and the rather abrupt ending, I did enjoy the book, which had strong messages of faith in it. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Brunsvold has planned next.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Emily Stephens
I've been a huge fan of author Sara Brunsvold ever since I discovered her first book, and this one is every bit as good!
This is the story of Nikki, a young woman who needs a major reset in her life. She decides to spend the summer at her grandparents' farmhouse, where she finds an old recipe book filled with advice about great food as well as life. The novel deals with Nikki's summer, the new people she meets, and the things she learns about her family, her past, and herself.
There is absolutely nothing not to love about this book! Nikki is a great character, and the reader learns a lot about her over the course of the story. We become acquainted with her backstory as well as her current struggles and personality. She's very detailed and realistic, and I found all of her actions and motivations believable.
This is way more than just a good story, though. There are a lot of good messages about compassion, the power of forgiveness, the importance of letting go of past hurts, and faith. I enjoyed watching Nikki learn these things as she works her way through an old German recipe book. And yes, there are plenty of recipes that you can try along with her!
In addition to enjoying the story, I came away with a lot of things to think about more deeply. This book has so many important themes and lessons. It would make a great choice for your book club!
I received a review copy courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Monica Huyser
Nikki Werner is just finishing up teaching literature for the school year when she struggles with her parent's divorce. She is so shook up that she just isn't herself, and she isn't even sure who she is anymore. In The Divine Proverb of Streusel by Sara Brunsvold, the reader follows Nikki through a summer of personal growth as she comes to terms with the family issues of today and those in her roots.
As her summer off from school begins, Nikki has reached a breaking point with her parents' divorce. She is upset with her dad for running off with another woman and getting married—which she just found out about through social media. She aches for her mom. She struggles with her boyfriend, Isaac, and isn't sure how to move forward with the relationship. So she runs. She runs to the farm her father grew up on and stays there for the summer, helping her uncle remodel a house. In that house, she finds a hand-written recipe book from her great-grandmother and decides to make the recipes. Wise sayings are also sprinkled in with the recipes.
I especially enjoyed the recipes and the wise sayings in The Divine Proverb of Streusel. I expected this to be a bit more lighthearted than it was. This book deals with some family issues and hard topics, although Nikki's new friend, Joyce, and her Aunt Emma lightened things up at times. I enjoyed most of the characters in this character-driven novel. The plot doesn't move along very fast, and the slowness lost me in the middle of the book. Most of the characters have some issues that they are working through, and like in real life, I don't always agree with their choices. However, I did love it when Aunt Emma chimed in. Maybe we shouldn't have favorite characters, but she was mine anyway.
As The Divine Proverb of Streusel wrapped up, I struggled with some of the resolutions. I also struggled with Nikki and Isaac's relationship—or lack of one—for the summer. There is no romance in this book. I thought that their relationship wrapped up a bit too neatly. I also didn't understand why Isaac couldn't see that Nikki was hurting, and that is why she ran away and struggled to talk about her parents' divorce. It is an interesting book, but as someone who came from some dysfunctional family dynamics of my own, I am not sure I agree with all of the conclusions or the way they were handled. But that is likely true of life—we all handle things differently.
However, as I said, I did truly enjoy the homemade recipe book and reflections in The Divine Proverb of Streusel. Complete recipes are in the book, although I did not try to make any of them. As someone who has lived in the Midwest almost all my life, I thought the background and the descriptions of small town and farm life were entirely accurate. There is also a Christian theme of forgiveness and redemption throughout the book. I am glad that I read it.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Interviews and Reviews. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
When I saw the title of Sara Brunsvold's second novel, The Divine Proverb of Streusel, I knew I had to read it. The title immediately drew me in, much like The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip did. Even if you've never heard of Ms. Brunsvold before, the title alone is enough reason to read this book. Trust me. You won't be disappointed.
When Nikki Werner's father remarries, it sends her into a tailspin of emotions. Suddenly, she can't trust the man she believes she is going to marry. Obviously, she can't trust her father, who destroyed their family, and so she seeks solace at the one place that seemed peaceful—her uncle's farm in Missouri. As she tries to pick up the pieces of her life, she discovers a cookbook passed down through the women in the family and embarks on a journey she never expected.
My favourite line really made me stop and think: "Do you think we should look at people in light of their actions or in light of what they have suffered?” After reading this book, your answer to that question will probably change.
Brunsvold's sweeping prose captivated me with her scenic descriptions and bold storytelling. Touching on subjects of divorce, forgiveness, and faith, the author has wrapped her story around food to make this a delectable book you will want to keep on hand in your kitchen. Why? Because all the recipes Nikki uses are in there, along with words of wisdom that you will want to read again and again.
In fact, I can see just the recipes in this book (along with the words of wisdom, of course) as a cookbook. I can even see myself reading a chapter or two, cooking one of the recipes, and serving it to my family with a healthy dose of faith, prayer, and, of course, butter.
If you like reading life-changing books, then you will enjoy The Divine Proverb of Streusel. I highly recommend it.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Revell through NetGalley for my honest review.
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