Author: Erin Bartels
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Robin Windsor has spent much of her life under an assumed name to avoid association with her infamous parents. She thought she'd finally found sanctuary running her used bookstore in quiet River City, Michigan. But when she receives an eerily familiar book in the mail on the morning of her father's scheduled execution, Robin is thrown back to the summer she met Peter Flynt, the perfect boy who ruined everything. Why would Peter be making contact now? And why does she have a sinking feeling that she's about to be exposed all over again?
With evocative prose that recalls the classic novels we love, Erin Bartels pens a story that shows that words--the ones we say, the ones we read, and the ones we write--have more power than we imagine.
Reviewer: Linda Klager
The cover of the book was very beautiful! I also liked that there was a feather from "The Professor's" wings included on the front and the back of the cover - how ingenious!
The book was well written. The main characters were well developed. The story line of the book went from "then" to "now".
I think it would have been extremely difficult to have had parents that were involved in a murder of three people. There was a surprise about this event that I do not want to give away. Robin changed her name so that she would not be linked to her parents. She hid away in her book store. She loved books and poetry. Even though I am not a fan of poetry I could see the beautiful way the author created her lines of poetry.
The only thing I wished in this book was that there was more of a Spiritual aspect - I would have loved to have seen the main character accept Jesus as her personal Savior and Lord. I did like that her friend went to church and that led Robin to go to church, too.
In reading further in the book Robin had a really full life even though being a bit of a recluse. She had some really strong relationships with older folks and I really admired her for that.
There is a bit of romance in this book and that added to my enjoyment.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Revell.
Reviewer: Winnie Thomas
The Words Between Us is a carefully crafted story by a gifted writer. The two timelines in the story are deftly woven together, unfolding the gripping, heart-wrenching story layer by layer. Populated with lots of broken, hurting characters, this tale is emotionally charged and sometimes hard to read. Robin Windsor has gone through things no child should have to suffer, and her friend Peter has also had a tough life. Their friendship is partially built on books and the poems Robin writes for Peter.
I loved the beautiful cover, and the poems added so much to the story and gave extra meaning to the title of the book. In addition, the many classic books mentioned give another layer to “the words between us,” as does the fact that Robin owns a bookstore.
With a captivating plot and a message of forgiveness and resilience, this book pulled me in and kept me turning pages to see what twists the story would take. I would recommend this book to those who are book lovers and especially those who enjoy plots with dual timelines.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Revell/Baker Publishing Group through Interviews and Reviews. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Gee Dixon
I found this book to be a bit of a slow go throughout the book. It was a good story but I felt it was not moving as quickly as some books I have read.
One thing I did love about Robin Windsor's story is that she owned a bookstore. The "then" and "now" back and forth to me was hard to keep up with.
This review is my honest opinion. Book was given to me by Revell a division of Baker Publishing Group and Interviews and Reviews.
Reviewer: Rebecca Maney
Who would believe that it could have begun with such a simple exchange of words; words that would flow between them as poetic payments for stories that lived and breathed, in contrast to those that "struggled for breath, forgotten on shelves and in basements". Robin Windsor's words; written by a soul hiding behind a world of hurt and misunderstanding, after her parents became infamous for doing the wrong thing, without leaving behind anything that was right.
After living under an assumed name, with a grandmother she had never met, Robin's freshman friendship with a senior named Peter cracks open a door of opportunity; first for trust and then for love. That all changes, and years later Robin's adult self still begs for the truth. Maybe there is hope after all, when the poems she wrote at fifteen begin showing up in her bookstore; book by book, as her past creeps comfortably close to her future.
"There is a day, that call us into life, . . . . . and brings us gasping to the light, bids us live again . . ."
In spite of its weighty, melancholy tenor through-out much of the "then" and "now", this author has written a beautiful expose on "calling out" when the waves roll and our feet begin to sink; "you of little faith".
I received a copy of this book from Baker Publishing through Interviews and Reviews. The opinions stated are entirely my own.
Reviewer: Trixi Oberembt
First off, this was the kind of book that drew me in right away and kept me invested in the pages. Erin Bartels is a new-to-me author, so for her to completely immerse me in her world was amazing! Being an avid reader, the idea of this taking place in a bookstore and the passion her main character Robin has for books is something I can totally relate to. They are more than words on a page to me, they have life, and meaning and breathe that little something into my very being. It’s almost as if they grab me by the hand and make me live an adventure I would have never have had if I didn’t pick them up.
Her characters felt real with the kind of problems and past baggage that we might have in our own lives. With those kind of older childhood/young adult regrets that we have to face and deal with at one point or another. Robin also faces the reality that her father is in prison for committing heinous crimes with the possibility of execution and her mother in prison for being an accessory. Sent to live with her grandma who she never knew, I can understand why she would want to run away from her problems when they threaten to overwhelm her. She finds solace and contentment in her books and running her store. The only character that I really didn’t like was Sarah, her high school classmate. It seems like she took the tragedy that happened when she was a teen and used it as an excuse to live a very destructive lifestyle.
This is the part of my review I don’t like to write because I found some flaws that bothered me. Being published by Revell, I’ve never had to question what kind of book I’m reading. I know they will always be Christian fiction books containing a faith thread, which is a vital element to me as a Christian reader. I did not find it in here! That is a huge turn-off to me, especially when I am purposely looking for it. The only redeeming character in here was Dawt Pi, Robin’s employee & friend. There were a few things that pointed to the fact that she was a Christian, especially where she told Robin that she was praying for her & emphasized God loves her. But I feel like her influence on Robin was so insignificant and played such a minor role. The writer had a wonderful opportunity to develop Dawt Pi to be that Christian to shine the light of Christ in Robin’s life. So I was left feeling very let down & very disappointed in the lack of faith. Also, I felt Robin never really did deal with her past in a satisfactory manner. She ran & hid rather than face things head on. A person can’t realistically move on in life without dealing with the hard stuff of the past. Lastly, there was no real feeling of redemption, resolution, or forgiveness for me in this book. It left me with too many questions and not enough answers and I really hated the ending. I was left hanging and asking myself what I just read.
So while the writing was fantastic and I can agree with other reviews on this and other points, I have to take away a higher rating due to the lack of faith and no real resolution at the end of the book. I like to have hope, and when it didn’t come about, I was left disappointed. This is my personal taste and I won’t apologize for feeling that way. In conclusion, if you are looking for a book to completely immerse you with evocative prose; this is one that will do it! Just don’t expect faith to play a major role in it.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group.
Reviewer: Abigail Thomas
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 as 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 Group.
Reviewer: Olivia R.
I expected a deep thread of beauty of this book, and received much more than an emotional story. This story is filled with human nature—the good and bad of people—but both is shown in a way that makes you understand the choices through the years. The mystery aspect was especially interesting!
Robin's pain and hurt was written so well, pulling me into how she felt. We've all been hurt by something or someone in our lives, but God has such bigger and better plans for us. The spiritual thread was woven someone quietly through the book, but I enjoyed how it was brought forth. The romance was sweet and sad and like the ending, a good mix of everything.
Overall, a book I'd recommend and I'm excited to see more books by this author in the future!
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels is one of those novels that sweeps you up into a world that feels so real it is hard to believe it is fiction. From the opening sentence, "Most people only die once, but my father is not most people" you are hooked.
The author has brilliantly merged the past and the present of her main character, Robin Windsor. We learn how Robin's life was suddenly turned upside down by her parents as a teenager and how it all converges in the present to bring the story to a satisfying ending.
This story had so many layers. From the classic works of fiction that provide an escape for Robin. To the "words in-between" the pages of those books (what a fitting title for this book). Even the fact that she works in a bookstore seems so appropriate and right - so satisfying. Lovers of books, in general, will instantly connect with this character.
One thing that seemed to be missing for me, since this was a Christian book, was the mention of God. I was 80% through the book when suddenly faith and church were discussed, briefly, in chapter 33. While the story did have a theme of forgiveness, the opportunity to bring God into it, along with the theme of redemption, was a missed opportunity, in my opinion.
Nevertheless, this book will speak to book lovers everywhere and will leave you with an urge to read some old classics or take a trip to your favourite bookstore.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Baker Publishing Group through NetGalley.
Reviewer: Nora St. Laurent
I was hooked from the first sentence, “Most people only die once. But my father is not most people. He is a monster.”
I instantly cared for Robin Windsor and her situation, as the novel starts out in current time with Norman Windsor on death row for something his daughter Robin couldn’t imagine him doing. She was a teenager when her life blows up with no hope of recovery.
The media had a field day chasing her down for information. She is trying to hide in plain sight. It’s difficult because her father was a Senator. But when Robin is sent to a small town in Michigan to live with her Grandmother, she finds a glimmer of hope. It’s there she meets Peter a soon to be Senior at a high school they both will attend. She learns Peter’s mother was an English teacher who loved the classics. Robin and Peter become fast friends when he starts giving her a book from his mother’s classic book stash. He reads it first. Then she does and writes him a poem in return as payment for the book. The poems give hints as to who Robin is and where she’s come from. All’s well until an incident happens that surprised everyone in River City, Michigan including Robin.
This is an engaging story as the author seamlessly blends present and past events in order for the reader and Robin to solve the mystery of why her parents are in prison. This author is creative in all the things Robin has gone through to live a “normal” life. Here’s a peek inside Robin’s thinking…”I went home that day feeling that maybe it would all work out. I didn’t have to live the rest of my days as a side show to my parents - three-ring crime circus. I could write myself a new story. I would be Robin Dickenson, orphan with a heart of gold. And I would give myself a happy ending.”
I also loved how the author had Robin work in a bookstore. I felt her passion for the written word. Having worked at a bookstore I could feel Robin’s struggle when someone asks about a book. “What is that one about?”…”There is always a pause after this question as I quickly attempt to encapsulate an entire novel in a one or two sentences….It’s not easy. Each time, when I hear what comes out of my mouth – so inadequate, so small compared to what I had experienced while reading – I feel like I’ve snatched the story from the author’s hands and trampled it underfoot.”…
I too feel there is so much more to the story than what I’ve mentioned. Grin! I highly recommend this novel for your next book club pick and one you should add to your reading list. It’s a coming of age story intermingled with a mystery, characters I cared about and ones I didn’t trust. The author has a good insight and character discussions about relationships, forgiveness and classic novels.
Warming, you’ll be burning the midnight oil reading this one. I couldn’t put it down. This author is one to watch!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”