I’m happy today to be a part of Celebrate Lit’s blog tour for Bethany Kaczmarek’s debut novel, Strains of Silence. I got to review her sister’s debut novella and novel a couple months ago so if you missed those, you can check them out as well. These are some very talented sisters!This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. We will make a small commission if you click through to buy something.
About the Book
Title: Strains of Silence
Author: Bethany Kaczmarek
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Music was her driving passion and the truest expression of her faith, but three months before her wedding, twenty-year-old Kasia Bernolak can’t even pick up her guitar. Feeling like a fraud who will ruin her dad’s pastoral reputation, she can barely meet his eyes. When Kasia finds the strength to break off her engagement, she still doesn’t realize the dangerous truth: Blake Hamilton isn’t ready to say goodbye. And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her.
Alexander “Zan” Maddox has seen what a domineering man can do to an unsuspecting woman, and Zan is sick of injustice. He gave up a college baseball scholarship so he could protect his sister from her abusive husband. When he rescues Kasia from her ex-fiancé, he instinctively appoints himself her personal bodyguard. Now, all he has to do is keep from falling for her himself.
Kasia and Zan become fast friends, but true healing and justice might cost more than either of them is willing to pay.
To be honest, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book that I received as a gift from the author. I really liked the characters even though some of them were a little two-dimensional, enough that I had a hard time putting the book down because I wanted to know what happened to them. But there were several things about the book I really didn’t enjoy while I was reading. The thing is, in the days since I finished it, I think I’ve come to understand why those things were necessary for the book to accomplish the author’s purpose and so I’ve grown in respect for the author the more I’ve thought about what she did in this book.
I’ll try to explain without giving any spoilers. My main annoyance with this book was that it seemed to meander a lot and not move in a tight linear way. I’ve heard a number of authors and editors say that if a scene doesn’t move you along your plotline, it needs to be cut. But there were many scenes in this book that didn’t seem to serve much purpose as far as plot went; they didn’t move things along. Along the same lines, the other thing that annoyed me was that Kasia, the main character, didn’t always make sense to me. I would think she’d had a break-through but then she would make decisions that were more in line with her thinking before the break-through. Her growth throughout the story was painfully slow and there were many setbacks.
The more I thought about this, I realized that even though those things might not make for what our culture deems a great book, they were startlingly true to life. The people in my life who have been through abuse never heal as quickly as I want them to or in nicely paced straight lines. There are always setbacks and times I think we’ve had a huge breakthrough only to have them make the kinds of decisions they were making months ago.
So the more I think about this book, the more I appreciate it. While it has some flaws, I think it is a powerful story that can prove very helpful to those of us who haven’t experienced this kind of abuse. I think reading it has made me a more compassionate and understanding person, and for that, I am thankful.
Click here to purchase your copy.
About the Author
Bethany loves a home filled with family and friends. Word gets around that—at the Kaczmarek house—food is abundant, conversations are real, and anything is up for discussion. She and her clan are fans of laughter, indie music, sonic screwdrivers, and superheroes. Home is wherever in the world they’re all together.
Guest Post from Bethany Kaczmarek
Strains of Silence: A Novel for Anyone Who Can Say #MeToo
We’re everywhere. After years of silence, many survivors of sexual assault are raising our voices. You’ve seen the hashtag. You know someone who suffered like this—a friend, a sister, a daughter.
Maybe you know personally what it’s like to be used.
I’m thankful for the conversations the #MeToo campaign has started, proud of the brave women who are speaking out. But I know some are still quiet, nursing wounds.
I could list loads of valid reasons a victim chooses to suffer in silence.
- People won’t believe her.
- If she doesn’t say it out loud, it’s easier to pretend it was a nightmare.
- He’s got authority over her—at work, at church, in the family—and it’ll cost her too much. He’s done enough damage already.
- He’s threatened to destroy her reputation, and she believes him. One, because he’ll do it without flinching. Two, because she’s already convinced that she’s living a lie.
- Because at church, she’s supposed to be fine, smiling, rejoicing in her suffering and pressing on. Besides, people don’t want to sit with her in her pain and listen. They’d rather offer bumper-sticker theology and trite spiritual bandages.
- The few times she’s tried to speak up, her used-to-be friend basically made her feel like it was her fault.
The list could go on, but it’s fair to say that being honest about what happened to us makes us vulnerable all over again. The idea is understandably stressful.
But you know what? Pretending we’re fine is exhausting too. We bear a great strain when we hide our hurts, for whatever reason.
Kasia Bernolak, the heroine of my novel Strains of Silence, gets it. She’s got reasons for keeping it quiet too. But when God brings some new people into her life, she realizes she doesn’t have to be alone.
And speaking up offers a freedom, a lightness, she wants.
It’s a freedom I want for my readers.
I know. Strains of Silence sounds like a heavy book right now. The themes are heavy, no doubt. There’s no glossing over and prettying up sexual assault or domestic violence. But—just like in real life—it’s how well we surround and support the suffering that can set the tone. Kasia’s friends are real, they’re funny, they’re quirky, and they believe in her.
Besides, it’s not all dark and brooding. There’s travel—an entire summer in the mountains of Peru. There’s a lot of music—Kasia’s a singer/song-writer who loves indie artists (I’ve got a playlist on my website). There’s heritage and culture—meet her immigrant family and you’ll get a delicious taste of Poland. There’s humor—enough to keep the story light when you need it to be.
And there’s hope. Kasia’s life is absolutely full of possibility.
So are the lives of everyone who can say #MeToo.
Sometimes, it just helps to see someone else fight the battle on our own horizon. And if you can do it with a fantastic new playlist and some laughs, why not?
My hope is that Strains of Silence will lead to real discussions with reader-friends, book-club gatherings that become turning points, and the true pursuit of freedom. It’s time to throw off the burdens we wear and stand up. Raise your voice, link arms with others, and fight for hope.
Healing is within our reach.
Quiet Quilter, January 6
proud to be an autism mom, January 6
Inklings and Notions, January 7
Bibliophile Reviews, January 7
Fiction Aficionado, January 8
Genesis 5020, January 8
The Fizzy Pop Collection, January 9
Bigreadersite, January 9
Red Headed Book Lady, January 10
Mommynificent, January 10
Texas Book-aholic, January 11
allofakindmom, January 11
Blogging With Carol, January 12 (Interview)
The Power of Words, January 12
Pursuing Stacie, January 12
Reading Is My SuperPower, January 13
A Greater Yes, January 13
Christian Author, J.E.Grace Blog, January 14
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 14
Mindy Houg Guest Review on Artistic Nobody, January 15
Janices book reviews, January 15
Faithfully Bookish, January 16
Kat’s Corner Books, January 16
Margaret Kazmierczak, January 17
Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 17
Carpe Diem, January 18
Remebrancy, January 19
A Baker’s Perspective, January 19
To celebrate her tour, Bethany is giving away a grand prize of a signed book, a Polish pottery mug with two of the main character’s favorite kinds of teas, 4 of her favorite albums (Josh Garrels, Waterdeep, The Gray Havens, and Andrew Greer), a box of chocolate butter cookies, and a $50 Amazon gift card.!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c5dc