We hope for better things

Reviewed by:

Cindy Akre, blogger and voracious reader



We hope for better things


Erin Bartels









377 pages


This book spans three time periods beginning in the present day with Elizabeth Balsam, a journalist from Detroit.  After being terminated from her job, she moves herself, temporarily, to her Aunt Nora’s farm north of Detroit.  The novel’s twists and turns revolve around Elizabeth’s privileged life in Detroit, the turmoil of her aunt’s life who lived during the 1960’s civil rights movement and the life of a woman named Mary Balsam who lived on the same farm during the Civil War. Because of Elizabeth’s job as a journalist, she digs into the past to begin the unraveling of her Aunt Nora’s life and her own personal life she left behind in Detroit. Her searching leads both her and the reader into a maze of startling experiences of the ongoing drama of racial issues we still carry today. 

The complicated family ties and the issues of racism are clearly written by the author, drawing the reader into the tensions that existed during both the Civil War and the 1960’s civil rights movement. But the applications to today’s time are astounding and almost eerily imagined through the character’s eyes. Readers are along for this historical roller-coaster ride which challenges us to think in more personal terms as we get to know the characters that cover the three time periods. This is a haunting novel of where we were and where we are right now, and it is a book that will leave you pondering where we may be going as well.


Rating (1 to 5):


Suggested Audience:

Suggested audience would be high school to adult.

Christian Impact:

Christian impact was subtle with minor relevance to the lives of the main characters. 

Other Notes:

The author notes at the end of this book that she did seven years of research for this project. Little did she know when published in 2019, it would be so incredibly relevant to where we are today. 


We Hope for Better Things

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The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals. This account is managed by the ECLA Web Team.

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