Tuesday, January 5, 2021

All That We Carried by Erin Bartels - REVIEWED

About the Book:

The most treacherous terrain is found within

Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident. They haven't seen each other since the funeral. Olivia coped with the loss by plunging herself into law school, work, and a materialist 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 DIY 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.

My Thoughts:
"No one had been left to fend for themselves amid the flames."  (p. 328)

When the hiking adventure begins between Olivia and Melanie Greene in this novel, there is enough unforgiveness and pent up bitterness to fuel the flames of another ten year separation.  There was more than one time during this journey that I was ready for the two of them to just give up and go home.  The reality of the loss faced by these two sisters is palpable!  I know people who have had less to work through that never came close to the transparency these two long for.

Erin Bartels is a gifted story teller, and draws the reader into a storyline that seems rather insurmountable.  If you've ever been camping even one night, you know right away that these two sisters picked the worst possible way to try and reconnect!  But God....doesn't He always work through all of our seemingly impossible circumstances?  Both Olivia and Melanie face some ugly truths on their journey, but they discover a quiet, solid presence at work amid the wreckage of their relationship.

There are those who will come to this story with an open mind, but leave shaking their head at how God is present in the smallest details of the story - always for the greater good.  I will tell you with unshakable certainty that Erin Bartels has experienced this unexpected grace in her own life to be able to write about it in such a believable way!  I found myself saying, "amen!" right out loud throughout the last couple of chapters!  

This story will challenge your faith, your relationships and your very heart to reach deep inside and ask God to show you where He is working in your own life!  Look for Him!  He's walking around in the midst of the flames!

About the Author:

Erin Bartels is the award-winning author of We Hope for Better Things (2020 Michigan Notable Book, 2020 WFWA Star Award-winner, 2019 Christy Award finalist) and The Words between Us (2020 Christy Award finalist, 2015 WFWA Rising Star Award finalist). Her short story, "This Elegant Ruin," was a finalist in the Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest in 2014, and her poetry has been published by The Lyric. A publishing professional for 18 years, she is the director of WFWA's annual writers retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son. Find her online at www.erinbartels.com.