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January 29, 2021

All That We Carried by Erin Bartels ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"Midwesterners do dumb things on the one nice day in March.  The thought that winter might indeed have an end makes them giddy, unpredictable and more than a little bit stupid.  They wear shorts, make big plans, believe that this - finally - will be the year they get in shape or go to Paris or write their screenplay." (p 9)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

All That We Carried
Jan 2021; Fleming H Revell Co; 978-0800739607
audio, ebook, print (360 pages); women's fiction
I have been a big fan of Erin Bartels since I read her first book. All That We Carried is her third book and she just keeps getting better and better.  This wonderful book made me laugh and cry and pray for a good outcome for the sisters.  Plus the setting in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is so well described that I felt like I was there and even got a bit chilly as the sisters were standing on the shore of Lake Superior.

Ten years ago two sisters, Olivia and Melanie, became estranged after the death of their parents.  They had always been close but they handled their grief very differently and there was no common ground between them.  Olivia went to law school and became independent.  She only saw the world in black and white with no middle ground - either something or someone was good or evil.   Melanie dropped out of college and started doing life coaching.  Unlike her sister, she saw the world in shades of grey and felt that whatever made you happy was the right thing to do.

As different as the two sisters have become, when Melanie reaches out to her sister and asks her to go on a camping trip to try to resolve the differences between the two of them, Olivia agrees - reluctantly.  They plan a hike in the isolated wilderness of the Porcupine Mountains in the UP of Michigan.  Olivia plans the trip, makes sure that they have the best tents and sleeping bags and sets everything up to her specifications.  Melanie isn't as rigid as her sister and makes mistakes with what she packs.  As their trip begins  Melanie is more interested in the trees and nature all around her while Olivia is more interested in sticking to her itinerary. They face a lot of difficult situations on their hike from bears, getting lost, fires, and injuries.  Will their hike make a difference in their relationship with each other or will it keep them apart?

I loved All That We Carried. The sisters were so well written and I was quickly invested in their lives and prayed that they would be able to put the past behind them and be real sisters again.  The book made me laugh and it made me cry, it scared me (BEARS!!) and it gave me things to think more deeply about. Erin Bartels continues on her winning streak of writing fantastic novels.

Buy All That We Carried at Amazon

Books by Erin Bartels:

We Hope for Better Things - review.
The Words Between Us - review.
Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter

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  1. This sounds like a good sister/relationship book. I haven't heard of this author before.