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Sentencing Silence
by Kathleen Cecilia Nesbitt


"What is it we cannot hold in our hands that holds us like a fist?"

This is the question that June, Reni and Sandy must answer. Each of them only wants to return to college to study and write poetry, but the circumstances of their lives make this impossible. Sentencing Silence chronicles the journey through the aftermath of sexual abuse toward breaking the silence that holds a trophy wife, a call girl, and a factory worker captive in the traumatic pasts that thwart their dreams.

June denies her future by submerging herself in domestic life as she tries to repair a damaged and dangerous marriage. Reni, embracing her anger, decides becoming a call girl is both her fate and a fast-track to earning tuition and living independently. Sandy falls deeply in love with an eccentric young artist who promises to return her to a time of unadulterated innocence. With each turn through tragic loss and increasing silence, they slowly realize that it is that very silence they've been burdened to keep that prevents them not only from realizing their hopes, but the possibility of any meaningful existence.

"The novel is Sentencing Silence, a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Awards in Literary Fiction, a book Kirkus calls “a Joycean tapestry” of “evocative and sensual” writing. It’s an ambitious, lyrical work that follows one woman as she moves through multiple relationships, various phases of life, and changing personas—a woman who weathers countless trials en route to a reckoning with her past."- Kirkus

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“The beauty and strength of Sentencing Silence is in its telling. Each of the characters recounts her story, related through narration that switches seamlessly between present day and memory, as Nesbitt’s sure hand and deft pacing guide the reader effortlessly through the journey. The fluid prose is both captivating and uncoils like a dream through characters who love words, but who are emotionally stunted and rendered mute by trauma. Even the minor details are poetic—a voice ‘cracking like a branch,’ a girl with ‘faucet water skin,’ and the moon over Walgreens that is ‘a ripe mango on top of a baby grand.’ Once you begin Sentencing Silence, you’re bound to read it to the end.”


Ellen Wade Beals:

Writer, editor and publisher of Solace in So Many Words

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