We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

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1861/1963/Present Day – Michigan

When Detroit Free Press reporter Elizabeth Balsam meets James Rich, his strange request–that she look up a relative she didn’t know she had in order to deliver an old camera and a box of photos–seems like it isn’t worth her time. But when she loses her job after a botched investigation, she suddenly finds herself with nothing but time.

At her great-aunt’s 150-year-old farmhouse, Elizabeth uncovers a series of mysterious items, locked doors, and hidden graves. As she searches for answers to the riddles around her, the remarkable stories of two women who lived in this very house emerge as testaments to love, resilience, and courage in the face of war, racism, and misunderstanding. And as Elizabeth soon discovers, the past is never as past as we might like to think.

Debut novelist Erin Bartels takes readers on an emotional journey through time–from the volatile streets of 1960s Detroit to the Underground Railroad during the Civil War–to uncover the past, confront the seeds of hatred, and discover where love goes to hide.

Sarah Jane, Liberty’s Torch by Eleanor Clark

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1886 – Pennsylvania/New York

Set in 1886 when the Statue of Liberty was dedicated.

Ten-year-old Kimberly Dawn is trying to figure out what it means to “be a good witness,” but is quickly discovering it’s not as easy as she’d hoped. Her grandmother shares the story of Sarah Jane, a youngster from their family who traveled from Pennsylvania to New York to see the Statue of Liberty in the late 1800’s. Through the life of this remarkable little girl, Kimberly learns what it means to “let your light shine.”

The Color of the Soul by Tracey Bateman

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1860s/1948 – Georgia

A Pandora’s box opens when reporter Andy Carmichael, too light skinned for acceptance by blacks and too dark skinned for acceptance by whites, is sent to Georgia to interview Miss Penbrook, an icon of Southern literature. From her deathbed, the mysterious Miss Penbrook gives Andy journals that reveal a surprising twist – her story and his own meld into one.

All the Way Home by Ann Tatlock

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1930s/1960s – California/Mississippi

From a rough section of Los Angeles during the late Depression years, to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s in the South, this novel is a searing portrayal of one family trapped by alcoholism and another living the typical middle class life. A true American story told through the eyes of two girls, best friends, separated by the internment camps of World War II.

The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers

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1800s/Present Day – Oregon/California

Sierra Madrid’s life has just been turned upside down when she discovers the handcrafted quilt and journal of her ancestor Mary Kathryn McMurray, a young woman who was uprooted from her home only to endure harsh conditions on the Oregon Trail. Though the women are separated by time and circumstance, Sierra discovers that many of the issues they face are remarkably similar . . . and uncovering Mary Kathryn’s story may help her write the next chapter of hers.