Have you ever seen a book, fallen in love with the cover or the synopsis, bought it, and let it slowly get buried until you forgot about it? This book is why you go find those gems and read them. Today. In fact, if this is one of them, you should ignore this review and just go grab that book and get started. You won’t regret it.
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Some Books Grip Your Heart So Hard You Can’t Escape (and don’t want to).
Heartbreaking, inspiring, infuriating, unexpected–where do the descriptive words for this gripping novel end? They don’t, I suppose. A cautionary tale of the power of perception over truth and truth over lies, in some ways, I feel like this book is a coming of age story in which the heroine comes of age in her mid-thirties. And, really… isn’t that more like reality?
Bartles brilliantly uses poetry, genre, classic plots, and pulp fiction as subtext in a way that makes me want to reread some sections to unpack more of what I probably missed the first time. Additionally, the dual timeline works to deepen the themes buried beneath the surface of the story.
As if that weren’t wonderful enough, the characters are lovable, flawed, inspiring, infuriating. Between these pages, you’ll meet the bird who won’t shut up, encounter the lies that imprison more than criminals, and experience unlikely friendships that form and leave indelible marks on the characters’ souls. The people (and animal) you encounter are just like the ones you might meet at your local bookstore, in your high school hallway, along a hiking trail when you don’t know where you’re going. They’ll encourage you and fail you. You’ll find truth and lies on their lips–both deliberate and accidental.
And when you walk away from The Words Between Us, you’ll have experienced “The Word” between you and the story within these words.
In fact, this book gets a permanent place on my bookshelf.
The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels
Robin Windsor spent most of her life under an assumed name, running from her family’s ignominious past. She thought she’d finally found sanctuary in her rather unremarkable used bookstore just up the street from the marina in River City, Michigan. But the store is struggling and the past is hot on her heels.
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 long-lost summer she met Peter Flynt, the perfect boy who ruined everything. That book–a first edition Catcher in the Rye–is soon followed by the other books she shared with Peter nearly twenty years ago, with one arriving in the mail each day. But why would Peter be making contact after all these years? 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.
To learn more about Erin and her books, check out Episode 56 of the Because Fiction Podcast!