By Erin Bartels
She had me at Coney dogs. Okay, if you are not from Michigan, that might be meaningless. However, I will tell you that as a Michigander living in the South, I find this unique story taking place in Detroit like a quick trip home. Like a very deep and satisfying trip home, all the way down to the Coney dogs which are still a staple in the diets of most people living in the big D. Please, can we have more books set in Michigan? (I’m not homesick – you are!)
OK, let’s get to it. The topic addressed in this novel is race. But wait! Don’t stop reading! I know, it can be a touchy subject, but Bartels paints an incredible tableau with a very steady hand. We follow three female protagonists living in three separate eras: the Civil war, the 1960s, and present day. Each woman ends up living in the same house, adding to its secrets. You almost get three stories for the price of one, but truly, they are all parts of the same story, and that story revolves around the 1967 Detroit riot.
If you’re looking for a little light reading, don’t despair. This story is truly all about the women. Each era depicts a bi-racial love story and the repercussions which vary depending on the times.
It’s fascinating reading. From the first slave who finds refuge on this northern farm during the civil war, to the elderly woman who refuses to remember what she has tried so hard to forget, to the woman who cut up her fancy dresses to make an exquisite quilt, these people will find a place inside your heart. And trust me, when you read the last page, you will not be ready to let them go.
The title: We Hope for Better Things comes from Detroit’s city motto: we hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes. If you know anything about the city and what it’s been through over that last 50 years, this motto is poignant, as is the book.
So it’s a brand new book (dropped Jan 1, 2019) with fresh writing, and a refreshing look at the age-old problem of racism. But rather than merely depicting a problem, this author offers rare optimism for our future. In fact, as the title states, it makes me Hope for Better Things. What more can you ask of a novel?
You can find your own copy here, and I know they are popping up in libraries all over the country.
Content: clean, some Christian content