As you probably know by now, I love reading. My favorite books come from the fiction shelves. I’m a sucker for historical fiction, but I do love a good contemporary novel (honestly, I’ve been reading a lot of those lately). Christian or non, it doesn’t really matter, though of course I’ve been ingesting more Christian fiction novels lately, meeting authors I’ve never heard of (aside from Francine Rivers. I love her).
The review below is one I wrote for Interviews & Reviews (along with Goodreads) for the second book by Erin Bartels. If you recall, I wrote about it in my post, 2 Debut Authors with Debut Novels in 2019. I love free books. I do. But, I do buy quite a bit as well!
The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When given a choice to read Erin Bartels’ newest book, The Words Between Us, I hesitated. Though the subject had piqued my interest, I knew that, although I liked her debut novel, We Hope for Better Things, I was not in love with it. Still, I decided to give it a go, hoping that her second book would be better than the first.
I had no idea just how true that would be.
I almost fear that my review won’t do justice to this story, a story where past meets present, telling a story of betrayal, fear, forgiveness, and love. This is Robin Windsor’s story, the daughter of a corrupt and murderous senator (allegedly) and his wife; both arrested and sentenced when Robin was fourteen.
“Every one of those moments felt like the last autumn leaf had plummeted to the earth, like all my life from that point forward was destined to be an eternal winter” (pg. 292).
The author’s use of symbolism in her story makes my heart soar. I’m a sucker for symbolism, metaphors. If you look closely, you will find that the story has two main seasons: winter and spring. As the quote above demonstrates, Robin felt the events she suffered through as a teenager led her into an eternal winter. Eighteen years later, on the day her father’s execution was scheduled, she notices a robin, the first sign of spring.
Spring brings renewal, hope, and in Robin’s case, the ending of a long, cold winter. She hopes this will be the beginning of a new future; until the court grants her father a stay of execution.
“It would not end today. It would never end. The first robin of spring was a lie” (pg. 53).
This novel was aptly named, as the author infuses words throughout the story. Words that Robin and Peter share in the novels they take turns reading, the poems Robin writes for him as payment, the books that surround Robin later in life in her bookstore. But not only those. Letters left unread from her mother, letters hidden, letters Robin refuses to write. And then the words that are spoken and unspoken, words that finally shine a light on the truth, words that pull Robin out of hiding and allow her to embrace her future.
Erin Bartels hit a home run with this one. I found myself unable to put the book down until I knew how this was all going to end. And I will be glad to pick it up and read it all over again.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing through Interviews & Reviews.
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