When Crickets Cry

When Crickets Cry

4.5 160
by Charles Martin

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A man with a painful past. A child with a doubtful future. And a shared journey toward healing for both their hearts.

It begins on the shaded town square in a sleepy Southern town. A spirited seven-year-old has a brisk business at her lemonade stand. But the little girl’s pretty yellow dress can’t quite hide the ugly scar on her chest.

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A man with a painful past. A child with a doubtful future. And a shared journey toward healing for both their hearts.

It begins on the shaded town square in a sleepy Southern town. A spirited seven-year-old has a brisk business at her lemonade stand. But the little girl’s pretty yellow dress can’t quite hide the ugly scar on her chest.

Her latest customer, a bearded stranger, drains his cup and heads to his car, his mind on a boat he's restoring at a nearby lake. The stranger understands more about the scar than he wants to admit. And the beat-up bread truck careening around the corner with its radio blaring is about to change the trajectory of both their lives.

Before it's over, they'll both know there are painful reasons why crickets cry . . . and that miracles lurk around unexpected corners.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Christian-fiction writer Martin (The Dead Don't Dance, not reviewed) chronicles the personal tragedy of a Georgia heart surgeon. Five years ago in Atlanta, Reese could not save his beloved wife Emma from heart failure, even though the Harvard-trained surgeon became a physician so that he could find a way to fix his childhood sweetheart's congenitally faulty ticker. He renounced practicing medicine after her death and now lives in quiet anonymity as a boat mechanic on Lake Burton. Across the lake is Emma's brother Charlie, who was rendered blind on the same desperate night that Reese fought to revive his wife on their kitchen floor. When Reese helps save the life of a seven-year-old local girl named Annie, who turns out to have irreparable heart damage, he is compassionately drawn into her case. He also grows close to Annie's attractive Aunt Cindy and gradually comes to recognize that the family needs his expertise as a transplant surgeon. Martin displays some impressive knowledge about medical practice and the workings of the heart, but his Christian message is not exactly subtle. "If anything in this universe reflects the fingerprint of God, it is the human heart," Reese notes of his medical studies. Emma's letters (kept in a bank vault) quote Bible verse; Charlie elucidates stories of Jesus' miracles for young Annie; even the napkins at the local bar, The Well, carry passages from the Gospel of John for the benefit of the biker clientele. Moreover, Martin relentlessly hammers home his sentimentality with nature-specific metaphors involving mating cardinals and crying crickets. (Annie sells crickets as well as lemonade to raise money for her heart surgery.) Reese's habitual muttering ofworldly slogans from Milton and Shakespeare ("I am ashes where once I was fire") doesn't much cut the cloying piety, and an over-the-top surgical save leaves the reader feeling positively bruised. Deep schmaltz in the Bible Belt.

Product Details

Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.95(d)

Read an Excerpt


I pushed against the spring hinge, cracked open the screen door, and scattered two hummingbirds fighting over my feeder. The sound of their wings faded into the dogwood branches above, and it was there that the morning met me with streaks of sunkist cracking across the skyline. Seconds before, God had painted the sky a mixture of black and deep blue, then smeared it with rolling wisps of cotton and sprayed it with specks of glitter, some larger than others. I turned my head sideways, sort of corkscrewing my eyes, and decided that heaven looked like a giant granite countertop turned upside down and framing the sky. Maybe God was down here drinking His coffee too. Only difference was, He didn't need to read the letter in my hand. He already knew what it said.

Below me the Tallulah River spread out seamlessly into Lake Burton in a sheet of translucent, unmoving green, untouched by the antique cutwaters and Jet Skis that would split her skin and roll her to shore at 7:01 a.m. In moments, God would send the sun upward and westward where it would shine hot, and where by noon the glare off the water would be painful and picturesque.

I stepped off the back porch, the letter clutched in my hand, and picked my barefoot way down the stone steps to the dock. I walked along the bulkhead, felt the coolness of the mist rising on my legs and face, and climbed the steps leading to the top of the dockhouse. I slid into the hammock and faced southward down the lake, looking out over my left knee. I looped my finger through the small brass circle tied to the end of a short string and pulled gently, rocking myself.

If God was down here drinking His coffee, then He was on his second cup, because He'd already Windexed the sky. Only the streaks remained.

Emma once told me that some people spend their whole lives trying to outrun God, maybe get someplace He's never been. She shook her head and smiled, wondering why. Trouble is, she said, they spend a lifetime searching and running, and when they arrive, they find He's already been there.

I listened to the quiet but knew it wouldn't last. In an hour the lake would erupt with laughing kids on inner tubes, teenagers in Ski Nautiques, and retirees in pontoon boats, replacing the Canadian geese and bream that followed a trail of Wonder Bread cast by an early morning bird lover and now spreading across the lake like the yellow brick road. By late afternoon, on the hundreds of docks stretching out into the lake, charcoal grills would simmer with the smell of hot dogs, burgers, smoked oysters, and spicy sausage. And in the yards and driveways that all leaned inward toward the lake's surface like a huge salad bowl, folks of all ages would tumble down Slip'n Slides, throw horseshoes beneath the trees, sip mint juleps and margaritas along the water's edge, and dangle their toes off the second stories of their boathouses. By 9:00 p.m., most every homeowner along the lake would launch the annual hour-long umbrella of sonic noise, lighting the lake in flashes of red, blue, and green rain. Parents would gaze upward; children would giggle and coo; dogs would bark and tug against their chains, digging grooves in the back sides of the trees that held them; cats would run for cover; veterans would remember; and lovers would hold hands, slip silently into the out coves, and skinny-dip beneath the safety of the water. Sounds in the symphony of freedom.

It was Independence Day.

Unlike the rest of Clayton, Georgia, I had no fireworks, no hot dogs, and no plans to light up the sky. My dock would lie quiet and dark, the grill cold with soot, old ashes, and spiderwebs. For me, freedom felt distant. Like a smell I once knew but could no longer place. If I could, I would have slept through the entire day like a modern-day Rip van Winkle, opened my eyes tomorrow, and crossed off the number on my calendar. But sleep, like freedom, came seldom and was never sound. Short fits mostly. Two to three hours at best.

I lay on the hammock, alone with my coffee and yellowed memories. I balanced the cup on my chest and held the wrinkled, unopened envelope. Behind me, fog rose off the water and swirled in miniature twisters that spun slowly like dancing ghosts, up through the overhanging dogwood branches and hummingbird wings, disappearing some thirty feet in the air.

Her handwriting on the envelope told me when to read the letter within. If I had obeyed, it would have been two years ago. I had not, and would not today. Maybe I could not. Final words are hard to hear when you know for certain they are indeed final. And I knew for certain. Four anniversaries had come and gone while I remained in this nowhere place. Even the crickets were quiet.

I placed my hand across the letter, flattening it upon my chest, spreading the corners of the envelope like tiny paper wings around my ribs. A bitter substitute.

Around here, folks sit in rocking chairs, sip mint juleps, and hold heated arguments about what exactly is the best time of day on the lake. At dawn, the shadows fall ahead of you, reaching out to touch the coming day. At noon, you stand on your shadows, caught somewhere between what was and what will be. At dusk, the shadows fall behind you and cover your tracks. In my experience, the folks who choose dusk usually have something to hide.

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When Crickets Cry 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 160 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book and would recommend.
Melrocks2001 More than 1 year ago
I really liked the storyline of this book. A young girl needs a heart transplant and a brilliant heart-transplant surgeon just happens to meet her while he's hiding from his past. It's written with a couple chapters in the present then a couple in the past for back story, which worked nicely. I got a little bored about 2/3 of the way through- and a little more than a little frustrated with the medical lingo- the detail was nice at first, but then seemed to take over when the story got more involved with the hospital side of things. . . From there I just got more and more frustrated at the predictability and how everything fell a little too neatly into place in order to make the story as heart-wrenching as possible. . . I would recommend this but wouldn't rave about it.
BRENDA SIMMONS More than 1 year ago
WAS A BIT BOGGED DOWN IN BEGINNING, too much off track. IT got much better halfway through and was heart warming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was disappointing because it could have been so much better if not so simplistic and contrived. From the very beginning it was obvious that the plot would follow a certain course and the ending was never in any doubt. However, that the author chose to play games with his readers ruined the book for me. The coincidence of a tornado, the failure of Annie's heart and the appearance of a heart for transplant all at the same time was just too much to swallow. Then, even worse, the "trick" ending to fool the reader and then the almost unexplained real ending was an insult to the reader. This book could have been so good if the author had treated his readers as adults and not written it as if hoping it would become a Hallmark movie.
Anonymous 27 days ago
I loved this book. Great story line, and characters I could get attached to.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Charles Martin definitely has a descriptive writing style. It isn't too descriptive that is over the top and annoying. His writing paints the perfect picture for the reader. Very fast read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the 2nd book I have read from this author . I will continue to purchase his book, this was excellent once again, u won't be sorry if u buy it. I started it and couldn't put it down .
sallymariee More than 1 year ago
I fell in love with this book.  I definitely recommend it to anyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GinnaL More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully uplifting story by a favorite author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this writer such a great story that keeps you intrigued from start to finish this book will not disappoint
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend rhis book to any reader. Charles Martin has another great one here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I appreciated the obvious research the author conducted when writing this novel. As a parent of a child with congenital heart defects, I found myself relating to some of the experiences in the book and understood the descriptions of Annie's heart defects as Martin described them as a doctor would to a patient. While I agree that some of the circumstances are a little unbelievable... unbelivable things can happen, or, at least I like to belive so- especially in the medical world! The book was well written and I enjoyed the character development - although I countinued to question the need for Termite (did anyone else think he would wreck a boat and become Annie's heart donor?) and Davis. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I will read (and recommend) more of Charles Martin's novels to others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an awesome book!!!!!! I loved it!!"
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very, very good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a absolutely AMAZING and TOUCHING book! Loved every word of it!! A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved every page!! Would love to read more if there was another book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It started out as a tear jerker...turned into a benign love story...breifly found the tears again and ended as you hoped. I couldn't put it down. I loved how the past explained the future eccentricities.