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Insightful,
Dramatic,
Adventurous

2 reviews

All That We Carried: A Novel
by Erin Bartels

Published: 2021-01-05T00:0
Paperback : 368 pages
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2 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 2 members
The most treacherous terrain is found within

Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident. They haven't seen each other since the funeral. Olivia coped with the loss by plunging herself into law school, work, and ...

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Introduction

The most treacherous terrain is found within

Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident. They haven't seen each other since the funeral. Olivia coped with the loss by plunging herself into law school, work, and a materialist view of the world--what you see is what you get, and that's all you get. Melanie dropped out of college and developed an online life coaching business around her DIY spirituality--a little of this, a little of that, whatever makes you happy.

Now, at Melanie's insistence (and against Olivia's better judgment), they are embarking on a hike in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In this remote wilderness they'll face their deepest fears, question their most dearly held beliefs, and begin to see that perhaps the best way to move forward is the one way they had never considered.

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Excerpt

MIDWESTERNERS DO DUMB THINGS on the one nice day in March. The thought that winter might indeed have an end makes them giddy, unpredictable, and more than a little
bit stupid. They wear shorts, make big plans, believe that this—finally—will be the year they get in shape or go to Paris or write their screenplay. And much like you wouldn’t hold a friend to a ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Olivia and Melanie behave like a lot of sisters: they know how to push each other’s buttons but they also show how deeply they love each other despite the grudges they hold. Do you have a sibling or close friend like that? What are the ways you have hurt each other? How have you lifted each other up?

2. Olivia and Melanie tried to ignore the hurt the other caused them for years. How do you think their lives might be different if they had simply talked through their problems rather than running away from them? Have you ever tried to pretend a disagreement with a loved one didn’t exist so you could avoid confrontation? What was the result? Can you think of a better way to handle something like that in the future?

3. Olivia and Melanie are on a path toward forgiving each other and forgiving themselves. Forgiving other people for the ways they have hurt you, whether deliberate or accidental, is difficult. Do you find it easier to forgive strangers or casual acquaintances than to forgive close friends or family members? Why? And what about forgiving yourself? Is that easier or harder than forgiving others? Why do you think that is?

4. The sisters run into Josh, a fisherman and avid hiker, who helps to set them on the right path in more ways than one. Do you think meeting him so far off the trail was an accident? Fate? Divine intervention? Where do you see the workings of divine design or a plan in your life? Do you believe in such things? Or do you believe more in the power of coincidence and chance?

5. Throughout the book, the sisters confront their beliefs about how the universe works, the afterlife, whether there is a God and, if there is, what kind of God there is. What are your beliefs about spiritual things? Why do you think you have the particular beliefs you do? Have you ever spent time and effort considering other viewpoints and belief systems? If so, did that strengthen your beliefs or cause you to doubt them?

6. This story unfolds in a wilderness, a place of great beauty where dangers abound. Though Olivia takes many precautions, the sisters still run into trouble. Are you someone who is generally prepared for any possible scenario? Or do difficulties often take you by surprise? When have you felt lost in the wilderness? Who did you rely on to help you find your way out?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Member Reviews

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  "A hike that will transform two sisters."by lpollinger (see profile) 01/29/21

Ten years ago, while on a hiking trip Melanie and Olivia, sisters, receive news that their parents have been killed in a car accident. The driver of the other car was a longtime friend of th... (read more)

 
  "Not for me"by Silversolara (see profile) 01/07/21

Two sisters that have been estranged since the death of their parents go on a hiking trip to reconnect.

It may not have been the best idea. It was a pretty stressful trip, and both siste

... (read more)

 
by ebach (see profile) 01/07/21

I predict that ALL THAT WE CARRIED will be one of the winners of the Michigan Notable Books award in 2022. This book not only tells the story of two sisters on a hiking trip in the wildernes... (read more)

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