In A Handful Of Dust by Mindy McGinnis | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In A Handful Of Dust by Mindy McGinnis | Book ReviewIn a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
Series: Not A Drop To Drink #2
Also in this series: Not a Drop to Drink
Also by this author: Not a Drop to Drink, Given to the Sea, A Madness So Discreet
Published by Harper Collins on 2014-09-23
Genres: Action & Adventure, Country Life, Lifestyles, Love & Romance, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

Sometimes post apocalyptic young adult books can blur one into another. It takes a special book to stand out in this somewhat crowded subset of the young adult genre. In A Handful Of Dust, companion to Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis is a special book. McGinnis’s novel held me in thrall from beginning to end. I will admit that I was nervous to start the book, because instead of the focus being on Lynn, main character from Not A Drop To Drink, this time we are focusing on her young charge, Lucy, who is now 17 and Lynn is actually 27 in this book. In A Handful Of Dust is quite different from its predecessor in a good way. People who enjoyed McGinnis’s debut will certainly enjoy this companion novel.

In A Handful Of Dust opens up ten years after the events of not A Drop To Drink. The small town that Lucy lives in resembles a community like those in the days before water was such a precious commodity. Unfortunately, this idealistic way of living is under threat as polio sweeps through the town. The source of the disease boils down to Lucy or her crush, Carter. And so, the two are asked to leave town. Lucy is reluctant to go, but Lynn accompanies her as she’s been in Lucy’s life for such a long time and the two truly are family at this point. Carter, however, must journey separately. And so, Lucy and Lynn begin their journey to California, where rumor has it desalinization plants exist and where life resembles the halcyon days of fresh, clean water for many. Along the way, Lucy and Lynn encounter many dangers, but also an ally or two. If you enjoy journey books, you will enjoy McGinnis’s latest.

You are going to find yourself quite disappointed if you come into this book expecting Lucy to be as tough as Lynn. Lucy is much softer than Lynn. She is vulnerable and a bit more naive than Lynn ever was. Unlike Lynn, Lucy has lived a relatively comfortable life – in that she’s never had to kill someone. Sure, Lucy has undergone immense trauma, especially from her mother committing suicide and her uncle dying. However, she’s spent much of her life under the protection of others. Still, Lucy manages to be brave and manages to look for the best in people. I choose to see her optimism for other members of humanity as a strength. I thought Lucy was immensely likable, and a nice, but different change from Lynn.

What strikes me the most about In A Handful Of Dust is McGinnis’s stark world building. This is a world where water is a precious commodity. It’s a world where people are so disconnected. They hide from and often shoot strangers. It is a world where people will do anything for a drop of drinkable H2O. It is a dark and almost scary place. I will admit there was one part where I think I got nightmares for days, and I actually ended up saying some loud expletives out loud after reading the part and setting the book aside for a few minutes. At least, until that compulsion to finish the book and see what happens next kicked back in. This world goes to some dark places. However, it is not without light at the end of the tunnel. It is not without hope. This is the sort of book where some parts drag you down so much, but the hopeful parts are enough to buoy you into optimism.

Finally, I think that if you go into In A Handful Of Dust expecting love triangles and instant love and kissing and swooning, you came to the wrong book. McGinnis’s book is unique from other books in the young adult dystopian and post apocalyptic genre in that there is no big focus on romance. In fact, the focus is all about surviving and making it to the end point. There is nary a romantic relationship to be found in this companion novel. Instead, the main relationship focus is on Lucy and Lynn and it’s more of a surrogate mother-child bond that we see. I loved that McGinnis chose to explore this sort of relationship as opposed to a romantic relationship. I was glad to have all my reading angst focused upon the survival of characters I was invested in instead of focused on will they or won’t they kiss. Not that there is not any value in that sort of book, but sometimes you just need a break from that. Overall McGinnis has impressed me with In A Handful Of Dust, especially with the world building and characterization.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Great review! I read the first book and while I liked it, it did bring be down a bit which made it harder to get through but I still looking forward to this one. I’m glad it focus’s on Lynn and Lucy’s relationship instead of a romance. I love those types of books.

  2. YAS glad to see you loved this one. I loved Not A Drop To Drink sooooo freaking much and I was hoping this companion would be just as good. I need to get to it!!