First line of Stories That Bind Us

Great First Line: Stories That Bind Us

This week, for Great First Lines, we’re talking about the first line of Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner.

First line of Stories That Bind Us
Image courtesy of Laura Olsen on Unsplash


The First Line of Stories That Bind Us


My Norman had never understood why I liked to hang laundry on the line when I had a perfectly good dryer inside.

This first line gives me the impression of a matronly woman who’s somewhat set in her ways. It brings up memories of arguments in the past where her husband tried to convince her that he bought the dryer for her use while she tried to convince him she’s perfectly content to hang the clothes on the line. And finally, there’s a sense of resignment–neither understands the other’s position but has decided to leave the topic alone.

As I read the first line of Stories That Bind Us, I had questions.

  • Who is the speaker?
  • Is her husband still alive?
  • Where does she live?
  • Is she the only woman in her neighborhood who still hangs her clothes on a line to dry? What do her neighbors think about her?
  • Does she care?
  • Why does she prefer to line dry? Is or maybe a tradition she brought from her family?
  • Or is it something she started doing because they were never able to line dry when she was younger?
  • What does hanging the clothes on the line have to do with this story?

clothes pinned on an outside line
Image courtesy of


How the First Line of Stories That Bind Us Guides the Story

Within a few short chapters, our main character Betty loses her husband Norman but she never forgets him. Betty doesn’t allow the reader to forget him either.

The memory of Norman and the story of his and Betty’s relationship is told throughout the novel. It is interwoven between stories of Betty’s current activities and her life after his death.

The author also repeats the activity of Betty hanging clothes on the line in the months after his death. Each time it happens, the reader remembers the first time it was mentioned and it’s a sweet reminder of her relationship with Norman.

What did you think of the first line of Stories That Bind Us?


About Stories That Bind Us

Stories That Bind UsBetty Sweet never expected to be a widow at 40. With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what’s next. She couldn’t have imagined what God had in mind. When her estranged sister is committed to a sanitarium, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a 5-year-old nephew she never knew she had.

In 1960s LaFontaine, 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.

Award-winning author Susie Finkbeiner offers fans a novel that invites us to rediscover the power of story to open the doors of our hearts.


About Susie Finkbeiner

Susie FinkbeinerSusie Finkbeiner is the CBA bestselling author of All Manner of Things, 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.

Learn more about Susie on her website

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