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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

We Hope For Better Things

Erin Bartels has been a publishing professional for seventeen years, most of that time as a copywriter.  She is also a freelance writer, editor, and book coach, and a member of Capital City Writers and the Women's Fiction Writers Association.  When she's not writing, she can be found wandering through the woods with her camera, painting landscapes in both watercolor and oil, or reading with a semi-spastic Chihuahua mix on her lap.

Erin lives in Lansing Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son, Calvin.  We Hope for Better Things is her first novel.

The past is never as past as we'd like to think.

When journalist Elizabeth Balsam is asked to deliver a box of old photos to a relative she didn't know she had, the strange request seems like it isn't worth her time.  But as she explores her great-aunt's farmhouse with its locked doors and hidden graves, she soon discovers just how dramatically some of the most newsworthy events of the previous two centuries shaped her own family.  As she searched for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments o love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding.

My Thoughts:
I ended 2018 reading probably the most moving fiction title I read all year.  It may have taken Bartels since 2012 to write and get We Hope for Better Things published (per the author's note in the book), but it was time well spent.
"Worrying won't change things," he said.  "Change happens when the cost of keeping things the way they are is too high."
Bartels tackles the subject matter of racism and the deep effects of racial tension on relationships, families, and communities and the nation at large.  Bartels' time slip novel spans a present-day storyline, 1960s Detroit race riots, and Michigan's Underground Railroad during the Civil War.  Through deeply developed characters and a heart-moving story, Bartels takes readers on a journey that will have them thinking long after the last page is turned.
I was invested in the story just a few pages in and couldn't put the book down.  Engrossed in the stories of Mary, Nora, and Elizabeth, I only came up for air and the "real" world when necessary and spent a couple of nights way past sleeping time to finish the book.  And now, not too many days since I placed the book on my keeper shelf, I still can't get the story to leave me...doubt I ever will.
This is a book not to be missed and an author to follow.

*I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Happy Reading Ya'll,