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We Hope for Better Things

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  4,044 ratings  ·  780 reviews
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 far
Paperback, 393 pages
Published January 1st 2019 by Fleming H. Revell Company
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Jessica Not at all! It is from a Christian publisher but religion is hardly discussed. Religion only comes out in passing.
Deena Adams The book contains three different timelines and follows different main characters so some are black and some are white.

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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  4,044 ratings  ·  780 reviews

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Katie B
This was a really solid fiction read although I guess it could also be classified as historical fiction because some real-life events were incorporated into the story. I thought the author came up with a unique way to tell a story that deals with the subject of racism.

Reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets with James Rich and she leaves their meeting contemplating his strange request. He wants Elizabeth to find an older relative she has never met and give her an old camera and a box of photos. Given r
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this book for free from the publisher (Revell Reads) in exchange for an honest review.

This was an insightful historical novel about three generations of women from Detroit. It takes place during the civil war, the Detroit riots, and present day.

Out of the three stories, I found Mary’s (the civil war one) to be the most compelling and interesting. The present day storyline was probably the weakest just because there wasn’t anything super exciting going on and it was more focused on d
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Elizabeth Balsam is working for the Detroit Free Press as a reporter when James Rich asks her to find a relative she’s never known in order to deliver some things, including an old camera and photos. Elizabeth finds this odd and doesn’t address it, until she loses her job and has free time to think about it.

When she visits her great aunt’s old farm house, she finds plenty of intrigue and mystery along with the story of two resilient women who previously lived in the house. Facing war and racism
Lisa Sturm
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Erin Bartels' debut novel and thoroughly enjoyed it! Bartels adeptly weaves together the stories of three generations of women in Detroit and the surrounding area who grapple with issues of race relations and persecution, societal boundaries and love, family and self realization. Mary, Nora, and Elizabeth are loosely related by blood, but deeply connected through their beliefs, convictions, and willingness to defy the status quo. I was particular ...more
Megan Collins
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a moving, multi-generational story about three women who decide to follow their hearts, even when their families and the rest of society tells them they’re wrong. The prose is lovely and engaging, and the characters jump from the page. For all the heartache within this timely story, I also found it to be immensely comforting; reading this book was like putting on a warm sweater and sipping on hot chocolate. I highly recommend it.
Erica Boyce
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a heartbreaking, heartwarming story about love and hate across generations of women in a Detroit-area family. Bartels does a beautiful job of showing how racism has affected the love stories of three women living in three different eras. Though her novel is technically historical, the messages she conveys are universal--and gorgeously written.
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received a free e-copy of We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartles from NetGalley for my honest review.

A captivating and beautiful masterpiece that will pull you into the lives of all the characters in this book. You will feel like you are walking in each of the characters footsteps as you go through each generation of this family's lives. You will feel the love, hardship, drama, and pain as you read each page.

An amazing read that will not disappoint!
Danielle Urban
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels is a one astounding read. This literary debut novel holds so much intensity. I felt the pain, loss, love, and hope. It was like a fresh battle wound that would not fade. A constant reminder of what never died. Still wounds like these exist, today.

In this story, I was swept up into the drama mystery of one journalist's family history. An interracial marriage...back then, it was not looked upon as happy thing. It was seen as a deterioration to society's ru
James Charlesworth
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The story of three women separated by generations but joined by blood and the strength of their convictions, Erin Bartels’ debut novel masterfully weaves a trio of interrelated timelines—one taking place during the Civil War and its aftermath, another during the Civil Rights Movement and incorporating the Detroit riots of 1967, and the final in the present day. Each of these three alternating sections contains enough plot and secrets and surprises to take up an entire book, but where Bartels tru ...more
Alison Hammer
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. It was the best part of having three flights in three days.

We Hope For Better Things is such an important, beautiful story that spans three generations of strong women, each dealing with similar issues in spite of being generations apart. It was interesting to look at the struggle of race relations over the years and how some things have changed, and others unfortunately haven't changed at all.

And you've got to love a book that gives you a 'gasp out loud' moment :) Couldn't
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

A box of photos, an elderly aunt the main character didn’t know about, and an old house.

Was it fate that Elizabeth had lost her job as a journalist because of a story she was covering?

Was it fate that James Rich found her and wanted her to return some photos to a Nora Balsam?

Was it fate that Elizabeth fell in love with Aunt Nora and with her home the minute she met her and stepped inside the family home?

As the chapters alternate between the three Balsam women, we meet Elizabeth present
Kate Motaung
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Masterful writing and storytelling. I was captivated by this book and continue to think about it long after finishing the last page. It's obvious that the author spent a long time carefully crafting the characters and storyline. Very engaging. Would highly recommend. ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
Three women. Three eras. One struggle. We Hope for Better Things is the tale of Mary, Nora, and Elizabeth, each living in Detroit and/or Lapeer County, Michigan but in different eras: Civil War/Reconstruction, Civil Rights movement, and present day. Bound by blood, these women also share a compassionate nature, resilient spirit, and innate ability to see below the surface to what lies beneath. ...more ...more
K.A. Doore
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
First off: wow. Three POVs, three timelines, three separate stories - it takes quite a bit of skill to not only keep the reader wholly invested in each, but to interweave them and keep them building off one another and still be able to give each a satisfying ending. And Bartels friggin' nailed it.

Bartels carefully and adeptly weaves a story in three parts about history, about family, about prejudice and hate and resilience in the face of it all. Her heroines are complex and multilayered, making
Felicia Grossman
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This story is a compelling multi-generational narrative about racism, privilege, and family secrets in the north, something that often isn't explored, both in the Civil War era and 1967 Detroit riots, as well as the modern era. The primary first person narrator, modern, out-of-a-job journalist Elizabeth, frames her own present with her family's past as she discovers it through her growing relationship with her great-aunt Nora. The the stories are moving and tragic, with the end ultimately uplift ...more
Maureen Timerman
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
What a great read, from beginning to end the author pulled me in, from Civil War time to present day, we meet the members of one family through the generations. This one of the best books I have read this year, and now looking for more from this writer.
We see injustice here in many forms, but mainly racism, and some that preach what they don’t practice. There is also some sweet romance here, and some tragic endings, family dynamics at the highest levels.
A don’t miss novel that will leave you wa
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The title, We Hope for Better Things, says so much about this story. Elizabeth Balsam, the main character, takes readers on a journey through struggles, love, hate, and loss. I admit there were parts of this book I found difficult to read because the depravity of mankind is exposed, yet I wanted to keep reading as Elizabeth dug through her family's history with hope and determination to find truth. This is an important book and should be read for a better understanding of our history; in hopes t ...more
Katherine Riley
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We Hope for Better Things is, first and foremost, about love. This accomplished and tightly plotted work of fiction intertwines three love stories around an American conflict that is not rooted in love at all. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” And this novel attempts it, through a white female voice that is slightly self-deprecating and at the same time trying to be deeply respectful of a highly painful and shameful topic in this nation’s history, ...more
Robin Bonne
Unfortunately, the opening of the book was not what I was expecting. It starts out with a white journalist meeting with a black man at a Coney Island to discuss a camera.

“I’ll admit you do look like her,” Linden said. “But —no offense and all —you do kind of all look the same.”
I laughed. As a white person in a city that is over eighty percent black, I was used to occasional reminders of what minority races had to contend with in most parts of the country.

There are implications that the prota
Dianne Polome
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Erin Bartel's debut novel is an interesting take on racial issues, as seen through the eyes of three women connected across the generations--from the Civil War era to the 1960's to more recent times. The characters were robust and believable, and their alternating stories were expertly woven together with threads of deep, personal faith. I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction, so that I enjoyed this book says a lot.

* Other than an advanced reader copy, I was not compensated in any way for thi
Pamela Barrett
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel follows 3 generations of Michigan women. There is Nora Balsam who was a young white woman of privilege during the 1960’s when she meets a talented black photographer named William. His photos of people document a part of Detroit she has never seen. Soon their friendship blossoms into love even though an interracial relationship is discouraged by both their families. Then there is Elizabeth Balsam a current day journalist who uncovers scandals and corruption; and she is making a name f ...more
Diane McPhail
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Erin Bartels is not afraid to take on the difficult—neither in her writing nor in what she is writing about. In her debut novel, WE HOPE FOR BETTER THINGS, she braids three separate narratives, each from a different time period, into one cohesive whole, from the present to the turbulent early years of the Civil Rights Movement to the struggles and conflict of the Civil War. Her striking protagonists, threaded together by unsuspected ties and deeply buried secrets, emerge as women of unusual stre ...more
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An incredible first novel! Erin Bartels has beautifully quilted a story that spans generations and explores the hard realities of racism. She pieces the story's fabric using threads of love, forgiveness, and the certain hope that God uses all things for his glory and our good. I wholeheartedly recommend it! ...more
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A powerful, riveting, and unputdownable tale of three women from different eras (Civil War to present) that frames the issue of race relations within the context of family relationships, making the subject immensely relatable and deeply touching. Bartels spins this masterful tale with a deft touch and a caring heart to create a stunning debut. If you enjoyed Lisa Wingate's New York Times bestseller "While We Were Yours," you'll find much to like in this novel. Bravo! ...more
Truly Trendy PR
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels is a breathtaking read that draws you into a world unlike any other. A story that is vividly written with characters that are relatable and well-written. Bartels has written a romance with family drama, tragedy, and love that is sure to captivate you. A story that is sure to pull you into the story and have you feeling all the emotions the characters are going through. We Hope for Better Things is a breathtaking read that will leave you wanting more.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Three women, three turbulent times in American history, three stories braided together to create one poignant and unforgettable novel. This is a book that you’ll remember long after you’ve turned the last page. I highly recommend it.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels was a pleasant surprise for me. The novel is about three generations of women who live in Detroit and rural Lapeer, Michigan, spanning from the Civil War to the 1960s to today.

I found the novel to be engaging, with interesting storylines and settings, nicely paced, and with well-drawn and sympathetic characters. As a Christian novel, Bartels message is, "God has a plan."

Elizabeth has lost her job at the Detroit Free Press. She is asked to visit her grea
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"The Past is Never as Past as we'd like to Think" is a quote on the back of We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels. This book and this quote made me truly think about the racial challenges in this country--and how my thoughts and actions could work for bettering things as we go into the future.

We Hope for Better Things tells the stories of three different generations of people and how race played a part in their stories through the Civil War, the 1960s and in today's world.

We read the story o
J Earl
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We Hope for Better Things from Erin Bartels is a wonderful debut and a moving story about family as well as society.

I found the beginning a little slow for me but not to the point of making me think about stopping. More like just wanting to get through the set-up a little faster. That said, it was probably good that it proceeded slowly and methodically so I could get the names and time frames clear in my mind. So if you start the book and feel it is a little slow, keep going, you will be rewarde
Sarah Grace Grzy
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ages 18+ due to mature themes
This is an important book. And it is not for the faint of heart. We Hope for Better Things deals with ugly things. Things that aren't pretty. Things that we don't want to read about. But they are things that we need to read about, we need to know about. And the prevailing message of this book is a beautiful one - one of hope.

We Hope for Better Things flips between the points of view of three different women in three different time periods. Elizabeth in modern-day Detroit, Nora in the 1960s, and
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AMERICAN HISTORIC...: The Keeper of Memories 10 17 Dec 19, 2019 01:29AM  
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ERIN BARTELS is the award-winning author of WE HOPE FOR BETTER THINGS (a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, winner of the 2020 Star Award from the Women's Fiction Writers Association in both the debut and general fiction categories, and a 2019 Christy Award finalist), THE WORDS BETWEEN US (a 2020 Christy Award finalist and a 2015 Rising Star finalist from WFWA), and ALL THAT WE CARRIED (coming January 20 ...more

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