My Penny’s worth
Secrets and shame
We all bear secrets and shame in some form or other. I have a littered life of disasters that have followed me on my journey. Each requiring revelation and forgiveness. Nothing good can grow in the darkness of fear!
I welcome Strains of Silence by Bethany Kaczmarek as it opens up a can of worms that needs to see the light of day. Indeed in England, there is a campaign to educate young men and woman about what ‘no’ means in a casual or seasoned relationship. I am glad that the secrets and shame of my generation are being met head-on in the younger age groups.
A controlling nature
This book is heavy at times, but then the topic is not light-hearted. The two characters involved in this sordid mess are Kasia Bernolak and Blake Hamilton. The needs of Blake are overwhelming and controlling, so much so that Kasia seems unaware of his true nature. I have met a few of these young men in my time – not a pleasant experience. But Blake takes Kasia’s snub to a higher level.
At times I empathised with Kasia as she struggled with others taking control of her situation, all with good intentions, but sometimes stifling. The men in her life want to protect her as if she were a delicate plant. I think I would have wanted to run away to Peru too even with her secrets and shame following her.
Bringing in Bible verses to show Kasia that she is worthy in God’s eyes helped reveal an essential element in this story. So often we feel we are not worthy of God’s Grace and Mercy because we have messed up. Those who have lived through the same experience as Kasia need to know how much God loves them no matter what, especially when they are Christians – we are all fallen.
The other characters
There are a lot of different people to help make the story flow, each bringing a distinct flavour to the mix. Some, in my opinion, are just extras and feel forced to make the storyline neat. Nonetheless, I think Kasia is very fortunate to have so many men running around wanting to protect her. I doubt this is the norm.
What I felt was lacking
Strains of Silence is a book of glimpses. A brief insight of Peru, a slither of Polish life, a hint of culture, the promise of music all lead me to want more. Yes I know the book is of secrets and shame. However, I felt denied as though this extra material, were an eye in the keyhole. In the blurb, it stated there would be lots of music, but I couldn’t hear it. I wanted more, to taste, smell and inhale the food and culture.
This book is not for everyone as it deals with sexual assault – I think it important to state this to give the reader a heads up.
*I received this book for free. No compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.*
About the Book
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.
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.
- Blake has got authority over her—at work, 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.
It’s not just a heavy book – there is more
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. A lot of music—Kasia’s a singer/song-writer who loves indie artists (I’ve got a playlist on my website). Heritage and culture—meet her immigrant family and you’ll get a delicious taste of Poland. And 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.
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Remebrancy, January 19
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To celebrate her tour, Bethany is giving away a grand grand prize 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!