Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Book Review: All That We Carried, by Erin Bartels

As soon as I saw Erin Bartels had a new book, I knew I needed to read it. Two years ago, I read her historical fiction, We Hope For Better Things, and I still recommend it to people! 

You can read my original review HERE.

All That We Carried introduces us to Olivia and Melanie, two adult sisters with a desperately broken relationship. After a decade of near-estragement, Olivia reluctantly agrees to a hiking trip with Melanie, and that's where our adventure begins.

The inexperienced hikers take on the challenging trails of the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Thanks to a handy map in the front of the book, we're invited to follow the pathway for ourselves. If you're like me, you can't help but google photos of the real life trails and waterfalls, some of which I've included in this post!

Trap Falls

As Olivia and Melanie work their way through the trails, their legacy of family tragedy is revealed. I don't want to share too much of the plot because, like any good hike, it's best enjoyed step by step. The hiking trip brings dangers of its own, and with each new challenge, the sisters are forced to face the broken spaces in their relationship. Tensions grow as Olivia and Melanie wrestle with questions of themselves, their views of the world, and the things they assume to be true. 

Who can we trust?
How do we forgive?
How do we rebuild?
What do we believe in?
Why believe at all?

Petoskey Stone (Melanie's town is named for this geological wonder!)

All That We Carried reads quickly, but there's still lots of depth in the relationships and the philosophical ideas. I found myself underlining favourite passages and turning down page corners.

And let's not forget the setting! 
Bartels never lets you forget the glory of nature in the fall, 
while also sharing the tactile truths of wilderness living.

Side Note: 
I miss touring so much! 
This made my heart yearn for ocean and mountains and waterfalls.
But in a hotel, please. 
You won't see me sleeping in the woods anytime soon!

Part adventure novel, part "road trip", part spiritual debate, part healing journey, and part parable - 
I loved reading All That We Carried! 

Bonus: visit Erin Bartels' site HERE 
for interviews & articles about the novel!

Lake of the Clouds

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

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