We Hope For Better Things by Erin Bartles was the perfect book to finish on the first day of a new year. A book about learning from the past to create new beginnings, it leaves you with feelings of hope, renewal, and an appreciation for those that came before you.
One of the first things I thought to say about this beautiful book was that it helped me rediscover my love of reading. A true page-turner, this was the first book in a long time that helped me recapture that feeling of needing to get to the next page, pushing it past my bedtime just to read another line and thinking about the stories and characters until I could again get back to the book. We all know how easily life gets in the way of reading. But true book lovers also know, and relish, that feeling of being so immersed in a book that you can’t wait to pick it up again. It’s been a little while since I felt that with a book. This book helped me recapture it.
Told from the point of view of three different women living in three different generations, each story is captivating and unique and immerses the reader in the lives of the storyteller. In a lot of books with more than one point of view, there’s typically one that holds the reader’s attention more than others, one that causes you to rush through the others so you can get back to the more interesting storyline. Not so in We Hope For Better Things. Each story, a journalist in modern-day Detroit, a farmer’s wife during the Civil War, and an upper-class white woman in the tumultuous 1960’s Detroit, has its own unique pull. When one chapter ends, you are sad to leave that time period only briefly before you are pulled into the next.
The stories that it highlights are important stories, stories that many, even those of us that live near Detroit, do not know, understand, or appreciate. I’ve always heard about the Detroit Riots, but that’s it….just heard about them. I was distanced enough from them in geography and time that they were never more than a historical event in the not-so-distant past. This book gave them life. It gave them faces. While fictional, it helped bring them to life for a new generation.
Beautifully written, the stories told in We Hope For Better Things, will stay with you long after you put the book down. I am happy to go into 2019 with the ghosts of these characters dancing my head. The front of the book contains a quote comparing this story to To Kill a Mockingbird and– much like Scout, Atticus, Jem, and Boo– Mary, Nora, and Elizabeth will now follow me wherever I go, reminding me that no matter the time period, there are always those that imagine that things can be better.