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Sentencing Silence
What is it that we cannot hold in our hands that holds us like a fist?
by Kathleen Cecilia Nesbitt View author's profile page

Overview


Sentencing Silence, a 2019 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist in Literary Fiction*, explores the interior and exterior plight of June, Reni, and Sandy through loss of innocence, identity, and voice toward breaking the silence that holds them captive in the traumatic past that thwarts their dreams. 


     What readers are saying about Sentencing Silence ...

     “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, and editor and publisher of Solace in So Many Words.

     "In this heartbreakingly beautiful book, Kathleen Cecilia Nesbitt takes the reader on a gut-wrenching ride through emotional and physical devastation -- and ultimately redemption -- all of it told in gorgeous, poetic prose. A marvel of creativity.” – Joyce Polance, Artist and Writer

     “Sentencing Silence is the real deal. The writing is wonderful, and poetic, and compelling, and so evocative that it puts you right there with the characters. Nesbitt shows us a real life that travels the painful path from the beginnings of self-realization through inchoate fury and finally into healing. As the reader traveling this path with June, Reni, and Sandy we are by turns infuriated by June's inability to recognize the abusive signs in her own marriage; we root for Reni's strength and resolve, even though she seems to have turned on herself; we grieve for the depth of Sandy's loss and pain, then cheer for her awakening and hope for her healing. If you know someone who has ever been abused, if you love someone, or want to understand someone more deeply who carries this burden, Sentencing Silence is an incredibly well-written and powerful masterpiece that evokes, rather than explains, the full gamut of emotional responses through lively and amazingly well-developed characters. I absolutely loved this book almost as much as it challenged me to see things more clearly.” – Amazon Reviewer

    "I began reading Sentencing Silence late one evening and before I knew it, it was ten o'clock in the morning; I couldn't put it down. I was already a fan of Nesbitt's poetry, but her prose, laced in lyricism, exceeded my expectations! Quite frankly, this novel blew me away. Nesbitt knows how to hold an audience spellbound with anticipation and bring the reader into both the state of mind of the narrator and the state of how trauma suspends a victim's ability to move forward. … In the end, Sentencing Silence tells us that denying our pasts, dismissing the trauma we have experienced only makes that trauma our guiding factor. We must use our voices to heal our wounds. Sentencing Silence is a powerful and incredibly well-executed novel.” – Ruth La Sure, Writer and Photographer

     “Crafted like a triptych, with exquisite sentences and amazingly gorgeous writing, Sentencing Silence introduces three women: June, Reni, and Sandy. Each one’s journey differs and yet all three are tied to the major theme of life aborted due to trauma. The reader drifts along inside the minds of these three women while, at the same time, viewing their exterior lives. Nesbitt has somehow achieved a multi-layered effect whereby the reader enters the scene, the analytical mind, and the subconscious - the latter of which can move from dreamlike to nightmare over the course of just a few paragraphs. One has to marvel at Nesbitt’s ability to create a sense of terror: fear, sadness, anguish, sorrow, confusion, desire, and nightmares are presented perfectly on a silver tray, exquisite in their tortured reality. 

     “Nesbitt combines traditional and experimental writing in a fascinating way. Her style makes the book more artistic than it might have been in straight narrative form. Certain sections, particularly the one about Sandy, remind one of the work of Marguerite Duras. Nesbitt has a tight collar placed around her command of pain. She is leading it – and the reader – right to the edge of the cliff. There is a message in Sentencing Silence, but that may not become apparent until the very end. In the meantime, the rest of the book is mesmerizing. It’s about the journey. This is a book for true readers of literature. It is not your usual pull-off-the-shelf-for-a-quick-read novel. It takes dedication, perception, and the desire to inhabit ‘the other.’” – Kyle Ingrid Johnson, Writer & Biographer

*What are the National Indie Excellence Awards?

     The National Indie Excellence® Awards celebrate independent publishing as a strong and proud sector of the publishing industry. Recognizing the merit of authors, publishers, editors and designers NIEA champions self-publishers and the independent presses who go the “extra mile” to produce high quality books in all aspects from the written word to design and production. Established in 2007, NIEA’s entrants are carefully judged by experts from various facets of the book industry profession including publishers, writers, editors, and designers.

https://www.indieexcellence.com/sponsor



Read more

Description


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. Set in 1980s Chicago, June, a trophy wife, 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, a factory worker, 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. Sentencing Silence takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery toward breaking the silence inherent in rape culture and sexual abuse that holds its survivors captive in the traumatic pasts that thwart their dreams.


Read more

About the author


Kathleen Cecilia Nesbitt studied fiction and poetry writing at Columbia College in her hometown of Chicago, and earned an MA in Transformative Language Arts and an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. She has worked voluntarily assisting incest survivors, domestic abuse survivors, incarcerated women, homeless teen mothers, and veterans with PTSD break their silence through the healing power of the written word. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Big City Lit, 20 Pounds of Headlights, Mojave River Review, Threads, Dagda, Dead Beats, and Whiskey Island Review. She is currently working on her second novel in between walking her beloved, old English Cocker Spaniel, learning to cook like a boss, gardening, and dancing the Argentine Tango. She lives in San Jose, California. She is a survivor.

Read more

Book details

Genre:FICTION

Subgenre:Literary

Language:English

Pages:524

Format:Paperback

Paperback ISBN:9781543959703


Overview


Sentencing Silence, a 2019 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist in Literary Fiction*, explores the interior and exterior plight of June, Reni, and Sandy through loss of innocence, identity, and voice toward breaking the silence that holds them captive in the traumatic past that thwarts their dreams. 


     What readers are saying about Sentencing Silence ...

     “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, and editor and publisher of Solace in So Many Words.

     "In this heartbreakingly beautiful book, Kathleen Cecilia Nesbitt takes the reader on a gut-wrenching ride through emotional and physical devastation -- and ultimately redemption -- all of it told in gorgeous, poetic prose. A marvel of creativity.” – Joyce Polance, Artist and Writer

     “Sentencing Silence is the real deal. The writing is wonderful, and poetic, and compelling, and so evocative that it puts you right there with the characters. Nesbitt shows us a real life that travels the painful path from the beginnings of self-realization through inchoate fury and finally into healing. As the reader traveling this path with June, Reni, and Sandy we are by turns infuriated by June's inability to recognize the abusive signs in her own marriage; we root for Reni's strength and resolve, even though she seems to have turned on herself; we grieve for the depth of Sandy's loss and pain, then cheer for her awakening and hope for her healing. If you know someone who has ever been abused, if you love someone, or want to understand someone more deeply who carries this burden, Sentencing Silence is an incredibly well-written and powerful masterpiece that evokes, rather than explains, the full gamut of emotional responses through lively and amazingly well-developed characters. I absolutely loved this book almost as much as it challenged me to see things more clearly.” – Amazon Reviewer

    "I began reading Sentencing Silence late one evening and before I knew it, it was ten o'clock in the morning; I couldn't put it down. I was already a fan of Nesbitt's poetry, but her prose, laced in lyricism, exceeded my expectations! Quite frankly, this novel blew me away. Nesbitt knows how to hold an audience spellbound with anticipation and bring the reader into both the state of mind of the narrator and the state of how trauma suspends a victim's ability to move forward. … In the end, Sentencing Silence tells us that denying our pasts, dismissing the trauma we have experienced only makes that trauma our guiding factor. We must use our voices to heal our wounds. Sentencing Silence is a powerful and incredibly well-executed novel.” – Ruth La Sure, Writer and Photographer

     “Crafted like a triptych, with exquisite sentences and amazingly gorgeous writing, Sentencing Silence introduces three women: June, Reni, and Sandy. Each one’s journey differs and yet all three are tied to the major theme of life aborted due to trauma. The reader drifts along inside the minds of these three women while, at the same time, viewing their exterior lives. Nesbitt has somehow achieved a multi-layered effect whereby the reader enters the scene, the analytical mind, and the subconscious - the latter of which can move from dreamlike to nightmare over the course of just a few paragraphs. One has to marvel at Nesbitt’s ability to create a sense of terror: fear, sadness, anguish, sorrow, confusion, desire, and nightmares are presented perfectly on a silver tray, exquisite in their tortured reality. 

     “Nesbitt combines traditional and experimental writing in a fascinating way. Her style makes the book more artistic than it might have been in straight narrative form. Certain sections, particularly the one about Sandy, remind one of the work of Marguerite Duras. Nesbitt has a tight collar placed around her command of pain. She is leading it – and the reader – right to the edge of the cliff. There is a message in Sentencing Silence, but that may not become apparent until the very end. In the meantime, the rest of the book is mesmerizing. It’s about the journey. This is a book for true readers of literature. It is not your usual pull-off-the-shelf-for-a-quick-read novel. It takes dedication, perception, and the desire to inhabit ‘the other.’” – Kyle Ingrid Johnson, Writer & Biographer

*What are the National Indie Excellence Awards?

     The National Indie Excellence® Awards celebrate independent publishing as a strong and proud sector of the publishing industry. Recognizing the merit of authors, publishers, editors and designers NIEA champions self-publishers and the independent presses who go the “extra mile” to produce high quality books in all aspects from the written word to design and production. Established in 2007, NIEA’s entrants are carefully judged by experts from various facets of the book industry profession including publishers, writers, editors, and designers.

https://www.indieexcellence.com/sponsor



Read more

Description


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. Set in 1980s Chicago, June, a trophy wife, 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, a factory worker, 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. Sentencing Silence takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery toward breaking the silence inherent in rape culture and sexual abuse that holds its survivors captive in the traumatic pasts that thwart their dreams.


Read more

About the author


Kathleen Cecilia Nesbitt studied fiction and poetry writing at Columbia College in her hometown of Chicago, and earned an MA in Transformative Language Arts and an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. She has worked voluntarily assisting incest survivors, domestic abuse survivors, incarcerated women, homeless teen mothers, and veterans with PTSD break their silence through the healing power of the written word. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Big City Lit, 20 Pounds of Headlights, Mojave River Review, Threads, Dagda, Dead Beats, and Whiskey Island Review. She is currently working on her second novel in between walking her beloved, old English Cocker Spaniel, learning to cook like a boss, gardening, and dancing the Argentine Tango. She lives in San Jose, California. She is a survivor.

Read more

Book Reviews

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J.
A TRANSFORMATIVE NOVEL Honestly? This is one of the most powerful and painful novels that I have read in recent years. I know that a lot of people are going to imagine that this has everything to do with the #MeToo "movement," and I suppose it does, but it is so much more than that. Sentencing Silence is a very deep, and at times jaw-dropping, exploration of a life launched in childhood abuse, or profoundly colored by it at any rate. This is no check-out stand, beach read. This is the real deal. The writing is wonderful, and poetic, and compelling, and often so evocative that it puts you right there with the characters. Nesbitt shows us a real life that travels the painful path from the beginnings of self-realization through inchoate fury and finally into healing. As the reader traveling this path with June, Reni, and Sandy we are by turns infuriated by June's inability to recognize the abusive signs in her own marriage; we root for Reni's strength and resolve, even though she seems to have turned on herself; we grieve for the depth of Sandy's loss and pain, then cheer for her awakening and hope for her healing. If you know someone who has ever been abused, if you love someone, or want to understand someone more deeply who carries this burden, Sentencing Silence is an incredibly well-written and powerful masterpiece that evokes, rather than explains, the full gamut of emotional responses through lively and amazingly well-developed characters. I absolutely loved this book almost as much as it challenged me to see things more clearly. Read more
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