Whether you’re someone who wants to wind down at night with a short story, fill the empty moments with a bit of poetry, or allow yourself to get swept into a novel that illuminates the past and delves deep into our present cultural realities, you’re sure to find something here that challenges, inspires, and entertains.
All That We Carried
Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a backcountry hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident. Over the years, they grew apart, each coping with the loss in her own way. Olivia plunged herself into law school, work, and an atomistic view of the world—what you see is what you get, and that’s all you get. Melanie dropped out of college and developed an online life-coaching business around her cafeteria-style spirituality—a little of this, a little of that, whatever makes you happy.
Now, at Melanie’s insistence (and against Olivia’s better judgment), they are embarking on a hike in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In this remote wilderness they’ll face their deepest fears, question their most dearly held beliefs, and begin to see that perhaps the best way to move forward is the one way they had never considered.
Michigan Notable Book Award winner Erin Bartels draws from personal experience hiking Upper Michigan’s backcountry trails with her sister to bring you a story about the complexities of grief, faith, and sisterhood.
The Words between Us
“A story of love found in the written word and love found because of the written word. It is also a novel of the consequences of those words that are left unsaid. Bartels’ compelling sophomore novel will satisfy fans and new readers alike.”—Booklist
Robin Windsor has spent most of her life under an assumed name, running from her family’s ignominious past. She thought she’d finally found sanctuary in her rather unremarkable used bookstore just up the street from the marina in River City, Michigan. But the store is struggling and the past is hot on her heels.
When she receives an eerily familiar book in the mail on the morning of her father’s scheduled execution, Robin is thrown back to the long-lost summer she met Peter Flynt, the perfect boy who ruined everything. That book—a first edition Catcher in the Rye—is soon followed by the other books she shared with Peter nearly twenty years ago, with one arriving in the mail each day. But why would Peter be making contact after all these years? And why does she have a sinking feeling that she’s about to be exposed all over again?
With evocative prose that recalls the classic novels we love, Erin Bartels pens a story that shows that words—the ones we say, the ones we read, and the ones we write—have more power than we imagine.
We Hope for Better Things
A 2020 Michigan Notable Book ▪ 2020 WFWA Star Award Finalist ▪ 2019 Christy Award Finalist
“In this powerful first novel . . . Bartels successfully weaves American history into a deeply moving story of heartbreak, long-held secrets, and the bonds of family.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
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.
Take 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.
This Elegant Ruin . . . and other stories
In twelve engaging stories, the joys and sorrows of life glow against such varied backdrops as a snowy wood, a quaint country inn, a crumbling metropolis, the shore of Lake Superior, and a lonely country highway.
A man in the twilight of his career falls in love with a young woman at the dawn of hers. A girl at the end of her rope finds an unexpected friend in an eccentric stranger. An artist takes stock of his life’s work and discovers an unwelcome truth.
With prose that evokes wonder and fear, regret and relief, Erin Bartels draws meaning from the small moments of life, challenging us to be still, to notice, to dream—and to hope.