WE HOPE FOR BETTER THINGS, by Erin Bartels, Fleming H. Revell Co, Graf-Martin


When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos–seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time–from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Underground Railroad during the Civil War–to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

approx. 400 pages

Out January 1, 2019


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

I will say before we get started, that the era depicted in this book is not one of my favorites mainly because of all the horrible things that happened during the Civil War period, and all those smaller but equally as important things that seem to be less written about but happened, nonetheless.

In this book, there are three POVs that tell the story through a time of hate and racism and what people were willing to do in the name of each. The present collides with 1960s Detroit and Michigan’s Underground Railway and the Civil War. Somehow love manages to survive.

Both the times following the civil war and the 1960s race riots were well-done, described compassionately and whole-heartedly. The three women in the book were all connected and each determined to follow their own hearts and desires despite being told they shouldn’t.

The author covers very difficult topics using her strength in writing and research to sound authentic and genuine. Each character is well-fleshed out and layered with a multitude of faults/flaws that keep them realistic and engaging. There is a lot of history covered and deeply felt romance to ponder and sigh about. Hope shines through the pages in such a way that you are left to reflect on how much the past has influenced the present and what it means for the future.

If you like strong women who survive terrible events despite the odds mixed with history and love, then this book is for you. I can’t help but wonder if maybe using two POVs would have been better, allowing the author to flesh out the characters of these women more.

Regardless of my thoughts, this is definitely a book you should read.

I gave it:


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