We Hope For Better Things
By Erin Bartel
Published by Revell
Release Date: January 2019
#CivilWar, 1960’s, Rascal conflict, historical fiction, Time/slip story Thought Provoking Historical
BOOK BLURB:When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she looks 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 farmhouse, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. 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. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.
REVIEW:I’m blown away by how this debut novelist Erin Bartel took on this difficult subject matter and by the way she handled it with sensitivity and respect as she showed racial tension on many sides in different time periods. It was eye-opening and touched my soul. This story as you get to know three strong women in unimaginable situations. The author takes readers through the Civil War, including the underground railroad, through the violate time period of the Civil Rights movement, showing the Riots in Detroit in 1967 and revealing parts of Martin Luther speeches to crowds. My heart hurt for the men, the women and their struggles. It’s also sad to know we still deal with them today.
This journey starts out in current time with Elizabeth Balsam a woman who has lived on the edge, doing what it takes to get the next heart-stopping story. That is until her whole world flips upside down. Which gave way to her meeting with Mr. Rich and his son Linden. They show her original never published pictures of the Detroit riots 1967. Elizabeth’s interest is peaked at maybe finding a great story in the mix, but when Mr. Rich wants her to track down a long-lost relative of hers for permission to use the pictures, she doesn’t know if it’s worth it. Was Elizabeth hoping against hope there would be a story she could run with? She has nothing better to do so she tracks down her Aunt Nora Balsam Rich and is amazed by her generosity and willingness to talk with her. Problem is the main thing Nora wants to talk about is Mary and Nathaniel Balsam and what they went through in the Civil war.
It took me several chapters to finally get the characters figures out as to who was who and what timeline they fit in (like Aunt Nora being in two-time lines messed with me. LOL!) I have to say I was a little confused as I wondered how these ladies were connected and where this all was headed. But when Nora Balsam Rich started talking about her house, how it was used in the Civil War and then how she got the house they were currently living in the 1960’s; things started to take shape for me. I got it.
Nathanial told his young pregnant wife he was enlisting in the service he would get his friend to help with the farm while he was away at war. Mary’s husband sends her a freed slave named George who helps with the farm in a tremendous way all the years Nathanial is away. Readers get an up-close and very personal look at how white people were treating freed slaves in the north. Oh, they were happy they were free, but they wanted them to live permanently somewhere else. The author even shows how the church treated Mary and her freed slaves, very sad but true to history.
I enjoyed the depth of characterization and the way the author showed the hardship created by racial discrimination issues in different timelines that could have been the end of them, but it wasn’t. I liked how the author showed how each woman faced these challenges head on and sought strength and courage from God and a few good friends. Each woman is passionate about staying the course and being true to what they believe, who they love, and what they were meant to do. No matter how hard their families, friends and society made things.
This is a remarkable, a deeply passionate, eye opening story that will touch your soul, and have you look at today’s headlines in a new light. Just like it did for Nora in the 1960’s. She really didn’t get the magnitude of the situation until she was in the thick of things. I like how this author has helped readers walk in these ladies’ shoes to grasp a bit of what they faced day in and day out. Giving you compassion and a clarity you might not have had before reading this story and meeting these three strong willed women, the men who loved them as they do far more than they ever imagined was possible.
I highly recommend this thought-provoking, time slip story for a book club pick. There is so much to talk about. This is a novel you won’t soon forget. This is a must read.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”
Nora St. Laurent
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