Debut novelist Erin Bartels has taken on difficult subject matter in her novel We Hope For Better Things. This split time narrative explores relationships between blacks and whites through the stories of three different women in the Detroit, Michigan area. Their individual stories take place during the civil war, the volatile sixties, and the present time. While the reader is presented with views from both sides of the equation, it is evident that we still have a long way to go if we are ever to resolve the divide between the races.

Overall, the story is well told although I found myself lost a time or two when the plot switched from one time frame to another. The characters are strong ones but I would have liked to get to know each of them more thoroughly than was possible in a split-time story. I did feel like the story was well researched and presented a historically accurate view of the respective time frames, especially the effects certain choices made on the women and their families. By the end of the book, most of my questions had been answered with the exception of the true cause of one death. I have my suspicions but I imagine the author intended for her readers to draw their own conclusions.

Erin Bartels definitely has a way with words and should find more of her novels on store shelves in the future.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


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 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.

Take an emotional journey through time–from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to Michigan’s Underground Railroad during the Civil War–to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

Purchase a copy HERE.

Read an excerpt HERE.


Erin Bartels has been a publishing professional for more than 15 years. Her short story “This Elegant Ruin” was a finalist in The Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest. A freelance writer and editor, she is a member of Capital City Writers and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and is former features editor of WFWA’s Write On! magazine. She lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son, Calvin, and can be found online at We Hope for Better Things is her first novel.