Book Review,  Contemporary Fiction

Everything is Just Beginning by Erin Bartels


You know it’s a great book when you think about it while you are at work and can’t wait to get home to finish it!

If I were to describe this book in one word, I’d say, “visceral” because although there are themes of redemption in this book, the storytelling provokes visceral emotions in both the characters and in the reader. At least, that’s what it did for me. It’s a wild ride of unconditional love contrasting with imperfect pasts with hurts and rejection and how these form and make the characters into what they are on the page.

The power of love and friendship and family shine through in Michael and Natalie’s stories. I love how they were drawn together, both needing each other in so very different ways, and the obstacles that come their way. What a powerful read. Bartels brings to life the songwriting a musician’s creative process in a fun and meaningful way. There are even playlists at the end of the book! Not to spoil anything, but I think what they find when digging the koi pond is genius! Symbolic and perfect! You’ll see.

Readers will enjoy the blasts from the past in this one, songs, historical events and popular culture of the day!

The book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. My opinion is my own.


Book cover: a guitar with a note woven between the strings


An Immersive Story of Music, Struggle, and Starting Over from an Award-Winning Author

Michael Sullivan is a talented lyricist and a decent guitarist, but since he was kicked out of his band (and his apartment), he’s not sure he’ll ever get a record deal. Living with his loser uncle in a beat-up trailer and working a dead-end job, Michael has little reason to hope for a better future. Until the invitation for a swanky New Year’s Eve party shows up in the mailbox. It’s for his uncle, with whom he shares his name, but his uncle is going out of town . . .

On the effervescent night of December 31, 1989–as the Berlin Wall is coming down, the Soviet Union is inching toward democracy, and anything seems possible–Michael will cross paths with the accomplished and enigmatic young heir to a fading musical dynasty, forever altering both of their futures.



ERIN BARTELS writes character-driven fiction for curious people. Her readers know to expect that each of her novels will tell a unique story about fallible characters so fully realized that it’s hard to believe they are not real people. Whether urban, rural, or somewhere in between, her settings come alive with carefully crafted details that engage all the senses and transport the reader to a singular time and place. And her themes of reckoning with the past, improving the present, and looking with hope to the future leave her readers with a sense of peace and possibility.

Erin is the award-winning author of WE HOPE FOR BETTER THINGS, THE WORDS BETWEEN US, ALL THAT WE CARRIED, THE GIRL WHO COULD BREATHE UNDER WATER, and EVERYTHING IS JUST BEGINNING. A two-time Christy finalist and winner of two 2020 WFWA Star Awards and the 2020 Michigan Notable Book Award, Erin has been a publishing professional for more than twenty years. She lives in the capital city of a state that is 40% water, nestled somewhere between angry protesters on the Capitol lawn and couch-burning, beer-ponging frat boys at Michigan State University. And yet, she claims it is rather peaceful.

You can find her online at

Melony Teague is a Freelance Writer and Columnist who lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario. The Biographer for Portraits of Giving (2014-2016), Aurora Sports Hall of Fame (2015 -2017) and teaches seniors in her community how to write their personal story.

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