Tuesday, January 12, 2021

All That We Carried By Erin Bartels

All That We Carried
by Erin Bartels
Publisher: Revell
ISBN: 9780800738365

Having read The Words Between Us last fall, I was looking forward to reading All That We Carried when I saw it available for review from Revell. They sent me the book for my review.

Summary:

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 Review:

In All That We Carried I can't believe the wide range of emotions I experienced. Who knew that two sisters on a hiking trip could invoke that in me? And I don't even have sisters!

I'll be honest. When I first started the story I was a bit "freaked" out. "Freaked" is probably way too strong of a word, but I was concerned about where the storyline was going to go. And yes, this was in the beginning! *cringe* Melanie, the free spirit sister, is talking about Tarot cards and reincarnation. Full Stop. A fellow book reviewer had LITERALLY just posted a photo of this book and mentioned how much she enjoyed it so I reached out to her about where I was at in the story. She reassured me that it all fleshes out. That was totally a God moment because I was nervous.

Whew... Listen, sometimes a gal has to be reassured. lol

So, I continued on with the story and it all began to make sense. With the accident that claimed their parents lives, Melanie and Olivia coped in their own ways. Melanie began grasping at anything that she thought would be a comfort or positive. Olivia closed ranks on herself and what she was able to control.

Can I just say I related quite a lot to Olivia. In fact, so much so that I cringed when she talked because I could hear myself saying similar things. The need to be right, to be in control. When you go through tragedy you do what you can to make yourself feel safe and that's what these girls did.


One of my favorite aspects of this story is during certain scenes the author then brings you back to a previous time in the girls lives - either when they were little or teens. It would give you a glimpse as to how some things never change. I also appreciated the design of those pages. It was easy to differentiate those past moments with the rest of the story.

You can see God's hand in the story even though the characters are clueless, but in so many ways He's evident. While I started out nervous about the trajectory of the spiritual aspect of this story, I can see how all of that mumbo jumbo fits in. Melanie (and for sure Olivia) is searching. She wants peace. She wants encouragement. She wants to know there's someone greater than her out there. Olivia, unbeknownst to herself, is searching even though she's outright rejected any "god". I just love how He reveals Himself to them as they hike. And THIS quote is why it's so important for parents to do as the Bible says and to train our children up in the way they should go as well as speaking about God all the time.


These sisters have a LOT to work out in their lives needless to say. In their own lives and together. With a decade of separation there is a lot to make up for... if only they can get past their huge chasm between them. And an even bigger chasm possibly in their future if things aren't ironed out on this hiking trip.

If anything can go wrong, it certainly does. But, God! The author's writing makes this hiking trip seem extremely real and you can imagine yourself a fly on their shoulder as they make their way through the Porkies.

And as much as I related to Olivia, how she expected Melanie to react to a bear is how she probably would've expected me to react as well. HA!


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.

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