As a title, All That We Carried serves a double purpose in my opinion. It literally describes the heavy backpacks the sisters struggled with during their hike and the emotional burdens that also weighed them down.It was especially appropriate that Olivia carried the heaviest pack for most of the hike since she was the sister who wrestled an enormous amount of guilt and forgiveness. I was happy to see that the sisters did mostly resolve many of their issues by the end but would have loved to read some more constructive dialogue between them rather than their constant bickering when they did talk.

While mildly interesting in places, it was a struggle for me to wade through this book. After losing my own mother just less than a year ago, it is difficult for me to imagine going for years with next to no communication with my sisters. We help each other get through the hard times and celebrate the good times together when we can.I am also not a hiker and found the minute details of the sisters’ hike to be somewhat boring. It is possible that in the midst of a simply terrible, horrible, depressing year that I just need to read something a bit more entertaining.

And just who was the Josh guy who kept showing up just when the sisters needed him and dispensed quite a bit of spiritual wisdom before disappearing again? Was he a real person or was he an angel or Jesus type supernatural being sent to help? I was never quite sure of that.

There were definitely some heavy themes that would leave most readers something to ponder afterwards.This might even be a good choice for book clubs because I can imagine quite a few good discussions that might be inspired by it.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital 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 most treacherous terrain is found within

Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident. They haven’t seen each other since the funeral. Olivia coped with the loss by plunging herself into law school, work, and a materialist view of the world–what you see is what you get, and that’s all you get. Melanie dropped out of college and developed an online life coaching business around her DIY spirituality–a little of this, a little of that, whatever makes you happy.

Now, at Melanie’s insistence (and against Olivia’s better judgment), they are embarking on a hike in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In this remote wilderness they’ll face their deepest fears, question their most dearly held beliefs, and begin to see that perhaps the best way to move forward is the one way they had never considered.


Erin Bartels is the award-winning author of We Hope for Better Things (2020 Michigan Notable Book, 2020 WFWA Star Award-winner, 2019 Christy Award finalist) and The Words between Us (2020 Christy Award finalist, 2015 WFWA Rising Star Award finalist). Her short story, “This Elegant Ruin,” was a finalist in the Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest in 2014, and her poetry has been published by The Lyric. A publishing professional for 18 years, she is the director of WFWA’s annual writers retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son. Find her online at