We Hope for Better Things Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
"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, USA Today best-selling 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 best-selling author of Perennials)
When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request - that she look 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.
Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes listeners on an emotional journey through time - from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Underground Railroad during the Civil War - to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 3 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||January 01, 2019|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #6,255 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#37 in Christian Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#294 in Women's Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#312 in Literary Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
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The stories of three white women, each finding herself in love with a black man, was an interesting way to frame the issue of racism. Mary's love is impossible and doomed, and their child is lost. Nora's love is possible but doomed as well, and their child is lost too. The outcome of Elizabeth's love is still unknown. The three black men are saints, the three white women more complicated and torn—but okay, literature needs more heroic men of color. I did miss, however, mention of other aspects of racism—e.g., its effect on black women—although obviously no single novel can cover everything. However, there seemed to be an odd omission of context in the present-day story. Story 1 had he Civil War, Story 2 had the Detroit riots—no mention in Story 3 of our first black president, and the hope (as well as the racism) that evoked? A missed opportunity.
The setup was slow for me, and the story really didn't hook me for a while, so I'd advise readers to keep going, as the book gets better and better as you go. Bartels kind of sneaks the religious stuff in, especially toward the end, but doesn't overdo it. Overall, a commendable book and quite an accomplishment for a debut novel. I was glad I read it.
Normally, my usual reading fare is either light, romantic, escapist books (so I can, you know, escape our crazy world for a bit), or non-fiction--usually American history. So while I'm an enthusiastic reader, it's rare that I'll read a book that burrows down into my heart as deeply as this one did. That's why, rather than reading it at one sitting, I parceled it out so: a) I could digest what I'd just read, and b) my heart could recover a little before I moved on.
The three main characters are so painstakingly drawn that they're more human than a lot of humans I know. Elizabeth, Nora, and Mary are good women who, like all of us, can be self-centered and clueless and sometimes even unlikable--and that's what makes them so memorable, and what made me love all three of them as I turned that last page. And the men these women loved/love--Tyrese, George, and most especially, William--are the best of men, caught up in a world that refuses to acknowledge them as human (in two instances, most notably) or to allow them to live and love as freely as every human being deserves. No, they weren't perfect, but that's what made them so special and, in two stories--I have hopes for the third man, even in a world growing uglier and more racist by the day--so heartbreaking.
Ms. Bartels has so skillfully woven together the three stories and the three eras that I sometimes felt disappointed as I left one era--only to instantly be happy I was back into the other eras. This is a book I'll encourage my friends to buy, and one that I'll happily loan out to those who can't afford to buy it, so they can experience it for themselves. This is a brilliant debut, and I can't wait to read her next book, the first part of which is excerpted at the end. Congratulations, Erin Bartels, you did good!
"All it took to lose one's history was a single generation that didn't take the time to learn it and pass it on. I would do my part to keep it alive."
I recommend We Hope for Better Things and discover a talented writer who keeps you thinking about this story long after turning the last page.