We Hope for Better Things

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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.


"I haven't read such a powerful, moving story since I read To Kill a Mockingbird."--Colleen Coble, USA Today bestselling author of the Rock Harbor series and The View from Rainshadow Bay

"We Hope for Better Things is an exercise of empathy that will shape many a soul."--Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Perennials

"We Hope for Better Things is a remarkable debut novel."--Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of Everything She Didn't Say

"Storytelling at its finest. A timely, sobering, moving account of how far we've come . . . and how much distance remains to be covered."--Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author of The Life List

"Enthralling characters and acute attention to detail. It's a must for those who need to understand that Detroit history is also American history."--Aaron Foley, city of Detroit's chief storyteller and editor of The Detroit Neighborhood Guidebook

"In this powerful first novel . . . Bartels successfully weaves American history into a deeply moving story of heartbreak, long-held secrets, and the bonds of family."--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review


Endorsements

"We Hope for Better Things has it all: fabulous storytelling, an emotional impact that lingers long after you turn the last page, and a setting that immerses you. I haven't read such a powerful, moving story since I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. This book will change how you look at the world we live in. Highly recommended!"

Colleen Coble, USAToday bestselling author of the Rock Harbor series and The View from Rainshadow Bay

"A timely exploration of race in America, We Hope for Better Things is an exercise of empathy that will shape many a soul. Erin Bartels navigates this sensitive topic with compassion as she shifts her readers back and forth between past and present, nudging us to examine the secrets we keep, the grudges we hold, and the prejudices we may help create even without intention."

Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Perennials

"It's not easy to weave three time periods into a cohesive narrative, each with its own story and intriguing characters. Erin Bartels has accomplished the difficult. She's woven together black and white silk threads into a braid so well crafted that a reader will carry forward the braid of love and separation, race and reconciliation, long after the last page is read. I applaud her courage, her authenticity, her beautiful turn of phrase, the freshness of her imagery, and the depth of her story that speaks to a contemporary world where understanding is often absent. We Hope for Better Things is a remarkable debut novel that every reader will see was written by a skilled writer telling a story of her heart."

Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of Everything She Didn't Say

"Erin Bartels's We Hope for Better Things shares the joys and sorrows of three women from different generations. Beginning with the turmoil of the Civil War through the race riots of the sixties to modern day, the story peels away excuses and pretensions to reveal the personal tragedies of prejudice. A roller coaster of emotions awaits as you share the lives of these women and hope along with them for better things."

Ann H. Gabhart, bestselling author of River to Redemption

"Storytelling at its finest. Erin Bartels delivers a riveting story of forbidden love, family bonds, racial injustice, and the power of forgiveness. Spanning multiple generations, We Hope for Better Things is a timely, sobering, moving account of how far we've come . . . and how much distance remains to be covered. A compulsively readable, incredibly powerful novel."

Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author of The Life Lis

"There is the Detroit we think we know, and there is the Detroit full of stories that are never brought to the forefront. With We Hope for Better Things, Erin Bartels brings full circle an understanding of contemporary Detroit firmly rooted in the past, with enthralling characters and acute attention to detail. It's a must not just for Detroit lovers but also for those who need to understand that Detroit history is also American history."

Aaron Foley, city of Detroit's chief storyteller and editor of The Detroit Neighborhood Guidebook


The Author

  1. Erin Bartels
    Matthew Mitchell Photo

    Erin Bartels

    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...

    Continue reading about Erin Bartels

Reviews

"In this powerful first novel . . . Bartels successfully weaves American history into a deeply moving story of heartbreak, long-held secrets, and the bonds of family."

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review


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