We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5-stars

EXCELLENT writing!! This story is a gradual build-up. I felt like the writer was taking me on a leisurely stroll through time, casually relating events in the lives of three women, blood relatives. As we continued to walk along I could feel the tension mounting until it reached a crescendo, and I couldn’t bear to abandon it until I turned the last adventure-filled page!

We Hope for Better Things is set in and around Detroit, MI, and follows a triple timeline—Lapeer County, 1861 (civil war); the 1960’s (civil rights movement and Detroit riots); and modern day Detroit.

When Journalist, Elizabeth Balsam, is given a camera and the promise of some old photographs to deliver to a great aunt she’s never known, by a black man who claims his uncle was married to her aunt, her interest is piqued. The photos, which were allegedly taken during the ‘67 Detroit riots, are just the thing Elizabeth could use to develop the kind of story that aligns with her reputation as one who exposes corruption and neglect. Recently fired, Elizabeth is eager to get her hands on the elusive photographs, but first she has to visit with their rightful owner, her old great aunt, Nora Balsam. Nora lives in the old family house in Lapeer County, Michigan, which was also the home of Nora’s great-grandmother, Mary Balsam. All three women, Mary, Nora and Elizabeth, are linked by blood, and as Elizabeth stays on at the Lapeer house and gets to know Nora through the many objects in her home, where she finds treasures from the attic to the cellar, she’s intrigued. What does it all mean? Close-lipped thus far, Elizabeth hopes that in time Nora will open up and contribute to her story in her own words. As time goes on, and Nora starts talking, secrets about the past overshadow Elizabeth’s career ambitions and she becomes more determined to devote herself to contributing to her family’s legacy.

Forbidden relationships, racism, secrets, lies, betrayals, tragedy. Yup, it’s all in there, cleverly constructed with each little fragment eventually coming together to form a unique, atmospheric tale that was impressive. I couldn’t believe this was the author’s first book.

Here’s another thing that I loved. Although there were tumultuous scenes and turbulent times depicted, there was not one profane word or gruesome account. That’s what I call excellent writing. When I can envision what a riot must be like through dialog or prose, without having it described to me in expletives, I consider that the mark of a great writer. Very highly recommended.

Thank you, Revell Books, for a complimentary copy of We Hope for Better Things. All opinions expressed about it are my own.

Thanks for reading!! 😊


29 thoughts on “We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

  1. Excellent review Laurie. I originally saw this on another blog and living just across the river from Detroit, I wanted to read this book. I could actually see the glow from the fires during the riots. Triple timelines is not easy to do, but this author seems to have been very successful. I am looking forward to reading this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have GOT to STOP doing this.😂 I went into your review with no intentions of adding another book to my queue. January and February are filled, thank you very much. I did go online today and request the book. It will probably be a while until I get to it, but better a review late than never when trying to help authors and publishers. This sounds like an author who knows how to tell a story. I like the idea of the three different time frames, but only if it can be done well, which you say this one does. So many aspects of your review call out, “read it!!!” 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😂😂 …. Sorry. It happens to me, too. I have so many pictures of books on my phone that other bloggers have recommended. 🤦🏽‍♀️

      Thank you, Linda. 💕 I think the author accomplished the triple time-line well. The chapters are relatively short and each character’s story keeps you interested. I hope you like it. I’ll be looking forward to reading what you think about it in future months. 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! Reviews are not always easy to write, especially when you have so much to say but have to condense your thoughts into a relatively short summary. Thanks for your kind words. 🤗


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