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We Hope for Better Things

Narrated by: Stina Nielsen
Length: 12 hrs and 3 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,648 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"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.

©2019 Erin Bartels (P)2018 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Hidden gem of a book!

I found this book while searching for new releases. The summary caught my interest but I hesitated to purchase because there were no reviews. However, I knew I could return it if I didn’t like it, so I took a chance and was well rewarded.
This book would be a bestseller if it were promoted. Fantastic story and good writing. I hope an Audible editor will listen to this one and promote it, because this is one of the best books I’ve listened to in some time. And I listen to two or three books a week.

156 of 162 people found this review helpful

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  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 07-22-19

Generational Story of Sacrifice, Love & Loss

This may be the best book I’ve come across about the relationship between blacks and whites. Non-political, beautifully and honestly told, going back to the Civil War, stopping in 1960s during the riots in Detroit, fast forwarded to current day. Three women, all related: Mary, left alone while her husband was off fighting with the Union Army, ran a home for escaped slaves . . . Nora, a young, well to do white girl in the 1960s who fell in love with a young black photographer . . . and Elizabeth, a current day journalist. A lot could be learned by reading/listening. One thing IS clear. Right from wrong. And it isn’t glossed over . . . or rammed down your throat. From a man sent home in a trunk during the Civil War and beds lined up in an attic, to southern blacks still fleeing to Detroit in the 1960s to work in the auto assembly lines, to men in high places still trying to hide their secret sins today . . . the author weaves a story of both hope and loss, mistakes and sin, yet a path to forgiveness and restoration . . . There are no polarizing statements or agendas here. It’s about PEOPLE. Rich people, poor people, white people and black people. And the choices that they make. It gives the listener an amazingly birds eye view of the city of Detroit and its history. It will make you want to research and preserve your own ancestry. Most of all it will make you thankful for your blessings and urge you toward forgiving those who have wronged you, especially those you hold dear.

28 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Breezed right thru it!

I really enjoyed this book and the narrator as well. Since I grew up in the metro Detroit area, it was fascinating to experience the story in places that are familiar to me. The author did a great job of linking 3 generations and a complicated family tree. I really enjoyed the historical aspect of this work of fiction; Civil War, Detroit riots. Very well done, definitely would recommend!

51 of 54 people found this review helpful

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Great historical fiction

My wife and I listened to the audible version of "We Hope for Better Things" on our way from Michigan to Florida. What a great novel. I really enjoyed the way Erin intertwined the 3 periods of time in the Balsam genealogy and all the research she did to support the story. I am looking forward to her next novel.

75 of 80 people found this review helpful

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  • Gretchen
  • Salinas, CA, United States
  • 03-06-19

A New Author to Watch For!

I am so grateful to the two reviewers who brought my attention to this book. I enjoyed the rich history & the character development all the way through. Stina Nielsen did a great job with every character. I look forward to more books from this talented author!

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

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3 generations

This story holds a great story about 3 generations. As reader we're following the lifes of 3 woman: one in the late 19th century, one around 1967 and the last one in the present.
Al story's are beautifully weaven together.
A good build story. I think every one would enjoy.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Lacking depth

I was so excited to listen based on some of the other reviews. I had just finished Call Your Daughter Home (loved it) and this was recommended based on that purchase. I typically love this type of story but this one really disappointed me. I could barely get through the first few chapters. I felt it lacked depth and being from Michigan the references to Detroit didn't add interest for me. It seemed like they were "thrown in" just to try and prove there was some research done for the book. I found the main present day character to be really annoying as well. I agree with an earlier review that this seemed like more of a Hallmark story or teen novel. I like my stories a little more raw and heart wrenching. This was soft writing.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • RK
  • New Jersey
  • 07-21-19

This is an amazing story!!

I LOVED THE CHARACTERS!! They will stay with me for a very long time! Mary (from the Civil War) and her absolutely beautiful and sad story of her life and love of a slave named George. Nora (from the sixties in Detroit) marries a black man named William and gets ostracized from her high class family. They move to Lepeer, Michigan to get away from the horrible things that happen to a biracial couple in Detroit. And then there's Nora's great niece, Elizabeth who comes to her great aunt's 150 year old farmhouse in Lepeer, Michigan with the intent of getting a set of pictures to her great aunt Nora. But, she found out that that the history of the farmhouse is too appealing to leave. Elizabeth stays to help her aunt and falls in love with a nursery owner. This is an awesome book! I love you Erin Bartels!!❤❤❤🤗🤗🤗

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Captivating and thought provoking!

I have no idea how many books I have read and listened to this year, but this is, by far, the best book I have listened to this year and maybe the best book I have listened to in the last couple years. I loved this story!!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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such a great book

love this story and it's many layers, so so great!!!! really wish I knew what happened to the blue eyed boy!!!!!!

19 of 22 people found this review helpful