The Words between Us

“Alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Words Between Us is 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 (after We Hope for Better Things, 2019) will satisfy fans and new readers alike.”—Booklist

“This sweet love story from Bartels (We Hope for Better Things) unfolds over the span of 20 years in chapters that alternate between two time lines: the late 1990s . . . and the present. . . . Fans of Jenny B. Jones and Courtney Walsh will be drawn to this engaging, heartfelt story.”—Library Journal

“Erin Bartels drew me in with a unique premise and held me there with her strong storytelling and complex characters. . . . Bartels has given her readers a novel to read slowly and contemplate. It shows a true love for literature that all book-lovers will enjoy and a deeply rich storyline that will keep you engaged until long after the final page is closed.”—Life Is Story

“Bartels weaves a dual narrative, slowing bringing to light a story of young love, betrayal, and loss.”—Fine Books Magazine

The Words between Us is a deep, thought provoking story. . . . Erin Bartels created a story that dug into my heart. I couldn’t let go of the characters. Even after the last page was read, they were still stuck in my head. Their stories were that good.”—Urban Book Reviews

The Words Between Us is a story of loss and discovery. Loss of friends, loss of love, loss of family and what happens when we discover it was only ever lost because we were the ones that misplaced it. . . . It’s a unique, beautifully written tale that packs a nice emotional punch and has just enough of a puzzle to leave you guessing through the very end.”—All About Romance

“This book took me by storm. . . . Her writing style was so descriptive and lush, and I really felt like I could see the scene play out right in front of me. . . . If you want a story that will make you think, but at the same time have you swooning with its adorable moments, definitely give The Words between Us a shot.”—Bold Girl Magazine

“This is a book that revels in words. It is a truly lovely novel with mysteries and romance and deep truth.”—WTBF AM/FM, Alabama

“The Words Between Us is the second novel for Bartels, and I hope we see more of her elegant prose and meaningful stories. . . . Bartels does an excellent job of placing the twist and turns of this story at just the right moments to keep you curious.”—Englewood Review of Books

The Words between Us is a story to savor and share: a lyrical novel about the power of language and the search for salvation. A secondhand bookstore owner hiding from a legacy of scandal, tragedy, and heartbreak must unlock the secrets of the past to claim her happiness. I loved every sentence, every word.”—Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son and The Promise between Us

“Erin Bartels has done it again. She’s created a story that has set up camp in my mind and now feels more like a memory, something I lived, than a piece of fiction. The added benefit is that it’s a story about books, some of the best ones ever written. If you are the kind of person who finds meaning and life in the written word, then you’ll find yourself hidden among these pages.”—Shawn Smucker, author of Light from Distant Stars

“Vividly drawn and told in expertly woven dual timelines, The Words between Us is a story about a woman who has spent years trying to escape her family’s scandals and the resilience she develops along the way. Erin Bartels’s characters are a treat: complex, dynamic, and so lifelike I half expected them to climb straight out of the pages.”—Kathleen Barber, author of Are You Sleeping


We Hope for Better Things

“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 (You can read the entire review here.)

“A forbidden interracial marriage, an escaped slave, an expectant mother waiting for her Union soldier to return—all of these stories are deftly told by Bartels, as she explores the hard realities of racism and its many faces during various eras of American history. . . . Compelling characters make this winning debut also appealing for fans of general historical fiction.”—Library Journal

“Bartels’ debut tells the story of three Balsam women, each of a different era, told against the backdrop of racism and violence in America. . . . will appeal to fans of faith-based women’s fiction authors like Colleen Coble.”—Booklist

We Hope For Better Things is a dual-plot historical fiction novel with a heart as big as its sprawling story, perfect for people who still reread To Kill a Mockingbird every year.”Popsugar.com

“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 bestselling 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 bestselling author of Perennials

“Storytelling at its finest. Erin Bartels delivers a riveting story of forbidden love, family bonds, racial injustice, and the power of forgiveness. Spanning multiple generations, We Hope for Better Things is a timely, sobering, moving account of how far we’ve come . . . and how much distance remains to be covered. A compulsively readable, incredibly powerful novel.”—Lori Nelson Spielman, New York Times bestselling author of The Life List

“From the moment I picked up We Hope for Better Things and started reading it, I knew it was something special. I was hooked from the very first page, and the more I read, the harder it was to put it down. . . . I can’t believe this is a debut novel for Erin Bartels. She is a master of the English language and the art of storytelling.”Faith Flix (Read the entire review here.)

“There is the Detroit we think we know, and there is the Detroit full of stories that are never brought to the forefront. With We Hope for Better Things, Erin Bartels brings full circle an understanding of contemporary Detroit firmly rooted in the past, with enthralling characters and acute attention to detail. It’s a must not just for Detroit lovers but also for those who need to understand that Detroit history is also American history.”—Aaron Foley, city of Detroit’s chief storyteller and author of How to Live in Detroit without Being a Jackass

“It’s not easy to weave three time periods into a cohesive narrative, each with its own story and intriguing characters. Erin Bartels has accomplished the difficult. I applaud her courage, her authenticity, her beautiful turn of phrase, the freshness of her imagery, and the depth of her story that speaks to a contemporary world where understanding is often absent. We Hope for Better Things is a remarkable debut novel that every reader will see was written by a skilled writer telling a story of her heart.”—Jane Kirkpatrick, award-winning author of Everything She Didn’t Say

“Erin Bartels’s We Hope for Better Things shares the joys and sorrows of three women from different generations. Beginning with the turmoil of the Civil War through the race riots of the Sixties to modern day, the story peels away excuses and pretensions to reveal the personal tragedies of prejudice. A roller coaster of emotions awaits as you share the lives of these women and hope along with them for better things.”—Ann H. Gabhart, bestselling author of River to Redemption

We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels is a one astounding read. This literary debut novel holds so much intensity. I felt the pain, loss, love, and hope. It was like a fresh battle wound that would not fade. A constant reminder of what never died. Still wounds like these exist, today.”—Urban Book Reviews

“This was an incredible debut novel that tackles a subject that has been sensitive for centuries.”—Write – Read – Life (Read the entire review here.)

We Hope For Better Things by Erin Bartels is the beginning of a new writer:reader relationship for me. This is the stuff I want to read. . . . I have never gasped or said, ‘Oh wow!’ so many times while reading a single book. . . . It’s set the bar pretty high for my reading list this year.”—Clicking Her Heels (Read the entire review here.)

“Only a week into the new year, and I have discovered a book that will definitely be on the best of the best list. We Hope for Better Things by debut author Erin Bartels is a novel that you want to savor. . . . This book receives the very rare Very Highly Recommended rating—a six-star, if such a thing existed.”—By the Book (Read the entire review here.)