“The Words Between Us” by Erin Bartels

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“Robin Windsor has 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.”

Whew, this is going to be a difficult review. The first thing that drew me to this book was definitely the cover, and then when I read the blurb, it seemed like it would be exactly the kinda book I’d enjoy. Some intriguing backstory and a mystery to boot. To start out on a positive note, Ms. Bartels has incredible talent with words and she can certainly make you feel the story. The storyline itself is also quite intriguing and fascinating.

Unfortunately, I have really struggled to enjoy this book first of all because it seems much more secular than Christian. I’m not saying that I only read Christian books, but if I get a book from a Christian publisher and go into it expecting at least some sort of spiritual story line (even if it’s shallow), it’s very disappointing an aggravating to discover that none of the characters really have any sort of relationship with Jesus Christ nor really so much as the hint of a desire for one. A couple mentions of someone praying, and the main character NOT wanting to talk to God is about as far as it goes. Also, in general, there are frequent references to worldy activities (drinking, partying, etc.), and I may upset some people by mentioning this one, but the main guy is divorced. I realize people justify this in stories by saying ‘that’s reality’ which is true, but that doesn’t make it justifiable because the Bible makes it pretty clear that God hates divorce. So this is been a very difficult book for me.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have only managed to get half-way through the book and I am still undecided as to whether I’ll actually finish it or not. The writing style pulls me in, but the content lacks much to be desired. I truly dislike writing reviews like this, but I have to be honest.

I’m rating this 2 1/2 stars (giving it 1 1/2 above the lowest rating because of the story telling talent) out of 5.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary paperback of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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