Book Review of We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

Reporter, Elizabeth Balsam, receives a mysterious call from James Rich asking her to meet him for lunch. James has an old camera and some photos that he wants Elizabeth to return to her elderly aunt Nora – an aunt that Elizabeth has never met. Elizabeth’s curiosity gets the better of her, and the timing couldn’t be more convenient. A failed expose has cost Elizabeth her job and she suddenly has plenty of time to visit Nora in her 150-year-old Lapeer farmhouse.

We Hope for Better Things is told in alternating POVs – Elizabeth (present day), Nora (as a younger woman in the 1960s) and Mary (Civil War era). Through these strong women, we read a story of not only hate, prejudice and bigotry, but also one of love, tolerance and understanding.

I absolutely loved everything about this book – the writing, the characters, the storyline – everything came together beautifully. The three separate narratives were nicely written, each character with her own, distinctive voice, which is something that some writer’s struggle with.

I couldn’t help but feel that there was more to Nora and Mary’s stories, however. Things were tied up nicely for Elizabeth, but I wanted to know more about Nora and Mary (and especially Mary’s family). Perhaps the author will continue their stories in another book. If so, I’d be quite happy to read any follow-up books. This was a truly lovely, inspiring book.

5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton