Strains of Silence

Strains of Silence

by Bethany Kaczmarek

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Overview

Strains of Silence by Bethany Kaczmarek


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611169669
Publisher: Pelican Book Group
Publication date: 08/01/2017
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 765,238
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

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.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Kasia Bernolak's fiancé waited for her back on campus.

She could allow that thought, thick and smothering, to choke her. Or she could fight it. When she'd taken off that morning, left Huntington to free-climb Beekur's Bald, she'd ached for spring's vitality. Over the past year, her heart had become almost as unfeeling as the granite beneath her — tough enough to withstand the storms, hard enough to cope.

Her father always said she'd been born with sun in her hair and its heat in her veins — all hope, all conviction, all passion. But if her daddy, her tatus, were here now, his disappointment would fall on her like the rain had. Sudden and cold.

Her lungs burned from exertion, but she relished it. If only navigating relationships were as easy as climbing. The mountain under her feet could be conquered one foothold at a time. Even when she got jarred and bruised along the way, she could best it. The rock may be unforgiving, but it was solid, constant.

Unlike Blake. He was as changeable as the weather.

The rainclouds had finally — mercifully — moved on. They now hung above Huntington proper. She pressed her palms flat against the wet, gritty stone at her back and let her gaze trace the winding road up the far side of the valley. Any GPS would say home was a thirty-minute drive away. But true home — with its piping hot, herbal tea, whispered Polish conversations, and strong-armed hugs — was out of reach.

Mama and Tatus would argue that homecomings were always a good idea, but some things couldn't be undone. Apologies couldn't fix everything.

She'd probably stayed too long up here already, but the rain had slowed her climb. Rather than waste time on the switchbacks, Kasia cut through the trees wherever she could, her footfalls muted by the moss and damp earth. Near the bottom of the trail, she paused to catch her breath and listen to the chittering songbirds. She gripped the slick bark of a birch and inhaled the peace, steeped in it. The scents of damp earth and mountain laurel conjured images of better times, times when she had the freedom to lose herself in the mountains for hours.

She hiked the trail carefully as it sliced down toward the valley. A twig snapped, and a rabbit darted beneath a fallen log a few yards to her left.

Bless it. She recognized desperate fear when she saw it. She slowed, tugged her wet T-shirt from against her rain-slicked skin, put the previous night on replay.

It hadn't been so out of the ordinary.

At Blake's too late, curled up with him on his couch, she'd been half watching a gory zombie flick and half enjoying the familiarity of his arms around her.

Just half.

And when he'd shifted at her back — it was bizarre, really — she felt ... hunted. She'd jumped up, coughed out a flimsy excuse, and left.

Would he mention that today? Or just let it hang over them like a storm cloud?

*
Kasia shoved open the cafeteria door and stepped inside. She took a moment to collect herself beside a small palmetto that'd been transplanted into these South Carolina mountains just like her Polish family. Her shirt had dried quite a bit on the way back to school. She tugged on it, tried to convey confidence. Strength. All the qualities she used to have.

If Blake hadn't waited, she could get in, eat, and get out. She needed to shower before she spent the afternoon at the homework club. Her sneakers squeaked across the floor and past the serving lines. The smell of garlic and oven-fresh bread made her stomach grumble as she scanned the room.

Blake eased back in his chair, laughing with guys from the business school. The picture of charisma.

Kasia willed her heart to match the steady cadence of her footsteps, prayed a calm façade would hide her discomfort. Under the surface, her mind composed a discordant tune, all sharp words and flat explanations.

He pointed at his classmates. "I'll catch you gentlemen later. Kasia finally decided to join me."

"Oh, don't leave on my account, guys," she said. A crowd could take some pressure off.

Blake shook his head. "They know I've been waiting for you. It's all good." Blake's friends meandered elsewhere. And his gaze landed squarely on her. "Drowned rat isn't your best look. Probably a good thing you missed the rush."

She balled her toes in her soggy shoes and pulled her long ponytail over her shoulder. The sudden rain shower on the bald had dulled her fiery hair to mud-brown. She looked up and noticed an empty plate smeared with tomato sauce near his elbow. "You already ate?" He tapped his thumb against the tabletop. "Really? You ditch me last night with no warning, you're late today, and now you're going there?"

"Sorry." She touched the hard, angular stone on her finger, held the engagement ring firmly in place.

"Sit down. I'll go get you some lunch."

She blinked in surprise, and he was gone. The air conditioning kicked on a second before ice-cold air whooshed over her damp skin.

Blake's sweater peeked out of his backpack, taunted her. A minute later, a plate clinked against the tabletop, and he slid her a fork as he sat. "Here you go."

Yum. Yesterday's chicken cordon bleu masquerading as something Italian. Her stomach wobbled. "Did they not have soup?" She longed for one of her mom's signature winter dishes — a deep purple barszcz or chicken rosól with potatoes and fresh dill.

"Sure. But I just sat down."

As she reached for the fork, her diamond caught the light and sparkled.

As if the promise of marriage were a beautiful thing.

Fear swallowed her like the pitch-black of a cave. In three months, she'd be Blake's wife. His wife. Every other option would cease to exist.

But to be realistic, she'd blown her chance at anything else when she gave herself to Blake. She had to make this work — to redeem their relationship.

She missed the old Blake. In the beginning, he'd have jumped at the chance to get her soup, hot tea — anything she wanted. He'd have offered the sweater the second he saw her wet and chilled.

She could make him smile just by being herself.

He reached out and fingered the hem of her soggy shirt. "So, you were climbing again. What is it about that place? Every time you're up on that ridge, you come back with your head full."

I have to climb to get out from under you. "Just struggling with some stuff." She forced down a bite.

He crossed his arms and rocked back in the chair.

She didn't have time to play his game. "I might switch from Elementary to Secondary Ed. I ... I feel weird about where I'm headed." It wasn't a total lie.

He squinted.

Had she played the role of blissful fiancée that well?

"We've already discussed this, Kosh. We'll travel, see the world. Dad's got big plans for me as the international liaison — Paris, Bangkok, Dubai. Your sole responsibility will be keeping me entertained."

She let the dull murmur of others' conversations fill her head, wished she could rewind, delete the innuendo. But it played back.

He wasn't talking about her music.

Did he not remember all the things he'd said made him fall for her?

Or did he simply not care anymore?

She'd been somebody — the musical daughter of that gracious Polish-American pastor from the church on the ridge. Her family had always won everyone's affection and respect without even trying.

For Kasia's whole life, music had been her driving passion — the truest expression of her faith. Her music had blessed people. Then she'd quit it all. Blake didn't like her in the limelight.

If she still wrote songs or sang, that might bother her more. But since her well of music had dried up, it hadn't been worth the battle.

When was the last time she'd enjoyed the weight of the guitar, the taut strings against her fingertips? What had changed?

She should've asked those questions long before now. Doubt breathed down the back of her neck.

Blake stroked the back of her hand. "Your chicken as bad as it smells?"

"It's fine." She poked at a piece of melted mozzarella with her fork. "Do you remember that song I wrote for you the summer we met?" she asked.

"All I remember is your crazy possessive parents."

They were never possessive. Tatus protected his girls was all. "Overnight stays weren't the kind of thing his girls did — even at your parents'."

Past tense. She hadn't been back at school long before she spent most nights at Blake's apartment.

Tatus probably still thought she was worth protecting.

As Blake sat there people-watching, she searched for a trace of his former sweetness — the letters he used to write her! No luck. "I'll be at Heritage Acres today — running the homework club."

He sat straight. "We've been over this."

"Jen has a doctor's appointment — just today." She hadn't realized how much she missed it.

"It's pointless, Kosh. You change nothing for those ghetto kids."

Maybe she wouldn't change anything long-term, but she could certainly make them smile and laugh before they went home. Somebody needed to tell them they could amount to something. She wished someone would offer her the same hope.

She wadded her napkin and set it next to her plate.

"Pointless." He shook his head like a disappointed teacher. "What you need to do is —"

Enough. She stood. "What I need to do is go. I've got to shower before I leave." She left her tray and stalked off.

"Do not walk away from me." Blake's voice kept on, but she tuned him out. He wouldn't cause a scene in front of all these people. "Presentation is key," he always said. Stupid catch phrase.

Let him feel the embarrassment this time.

She passed a guy she'd seen in the music building a few times. Kasia smiled, chin high.

For the first time in months.

Twice now, in twenty-four hours, she'd left Blake in the dust. And she sort of liked how it felt.

*
An hour later, wearing a dressy T-shirt and capris, her curls barely tamed into submission, Kasia grabbed her keys off the desk and headed to the parking lot. Thankfully, the rainclouds had vanished.

Heat poured out the door of the old sedan Tatus had given her before she left for Oconee State. Inside, she soaked in the warmth of the sunbaked vinyl. As the engine turned over, she focused on the slight vibration and the hum of the engine, rested a hand on the wheel. The car always felt safe — like a place where her dad watched over her.

She pulled out and left campus, wound along side streets through east Huntington. She decided to take the bypass around town, merged seamlessly, hit the gas.

All she needed now was her music. A little Eric Peters would suit her nicely today.

Thunk.

The car shimmied and lurched to the left. She yanked the wheel right, fought against its pull toward oncoming traffic. One glance at her rearview mirror and her heart turned percussionist.

A horn blasted.

A semi swerved.

In the right lane, car after car snaked past, kept her from the safety of the shoulder.

She punched the hazard lights button, slowed to a stop, waited for an opening.

Show some mercy, people.

Eons later, she saluted the final vehicle, edged her car onto the shoulder, and parked.

She got out and checked all four tires. A flat. The absolute last thing she needed. At least it was on the passenger side.

She ducked in to grab her cell and touched the screen to bring it to life. Nothing but black. Ugh. Now she couldn't call for help or let Mrs. Peat know she might be late. Could today get worse? At least Tatus had taught her how to change a tire.

It was different now though. Last time, she'd done it with him. When he was close by, smelling of aftershave and wood chips, she could do anything.

She popped the trunk and hoisted the jack. The spare took a little finagling. She gripped the rubber and lowered it to the gravel.

With the jack crank, she pulled off the hubcap and set it behind the wheel. The stubborn lug nuts held on, though, and the edges cut against her skin. They hadn't been this difficult to unscrew when Tatus was here.

Kasia imagined him coaxing her with his familiar accent. Get some leverage, Kasiu. Use your body weight when you must. She maneuvered the tire iron, shoved down on the left, pulled up on the right. Her arms shook, palms burned. Kasia stood, brushed tiny stones from her knees and considered grabbing one of the hair bands she kept on the gearshift. Hair clung to her neck, prickly, annoying. She placed her right foot on the iron and stepped up, bounced her full 120 pounds.

The lug nuts moved about as easily as the guilt she kept wishing away.

What now? If she flagged somebody down, she might get a psycho. If she stood there like an idiot, a psycho could volunteer.

Tires crunched on the gravel as a black military-style vehicle rolled to a stop behind her. Kasia prayed for someone sane, helpful, gracious. A tall guy about her age jumped down from the driver's seat and strolled over. His hair was a mess — a haystack all gold and shadow. Laugh lines creased his eyes, and deep dimples punctuated his cheeks as he smiled.

Careful to keep her distance, she moved to the front of the car.

"Got a flat?" The barest hint of a southern drawl played in his words — more gentleman than country.

She eyed the deflated tire. "The lug nuts are too tight."

"Mind if I give it a try?" He didn't wait for an answer. He stepped onto the tire iron and used his body weight to kick-start it. For him, it worked. Of course.

"I did try that."

He peeked from underneath a few strands of gold. "Were you standin' on the right side?"

"What?"

A black sports car blew past and laid on the horn.

"The correct side? Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey?" He made a letter L with his fingers.

Her mouth hung open, and she parked her fists on her hips. "Not all women are inept." In fact, she could change her own oil without any help, thank you very much — if she could get the filter unscrewed.

Both his hands popped up in surrender. "Whoa, not even going there. Just checking." He smiled and muttered "inept" as he knelt to work the iron with his hand. He glanced up at her. "And not all redheads are feisty." The smile in his voice disarmed her.

"It's auburn."

He wiped his jaw with his shoulder. "Auburn, then."

"For the record, I stood on the correct side. And jumped on it."

He chuckled. "Sorry I missed that."

She watched him work, watched his shirt dampen between his shoulder blades, watched ropey muscles move beneath his tan skin as he turned the iron. Even with the hours Tatus spent in his wood shop, he didn't have that much definition in his arms. How did a guy get forearms like those?

The lug nuts were off in minutes, the last one clinking against the others as he pocketed it. He reached around both sides of the tire to haul it off. "Maybe we could grab somethin' cold after this."

"I don't think that's a good idea." She spun her engagement ring around her finger and swung her hand behind her, out of sight.

Mr. Forearms shoved her spare into place and met her gaze as he hand-screwed the nuts back on. "Come on. I'm doin' you a solid. Cold glass of sweet tea sure sounds nice."

She leaned against the hood. "Does that line usually work?" "Ouch. Go easy on me, Auburn." He winked and reached for the tire iron.

"Kasia."

He swiped a hand across his sweaty brow and glanced up at her. "Sorry? Kosh-what?"

"I'm introducing myself. My name is Kasia, not Auburn."

"Zan Maddox. How about a truce?"

She offered a single nod and half a smile.

He worked in silence until he finished the job and then moved the flat to her open trunk. She caught a scowl as he set it in and wiped his hands on his jeans.

"Is something wrong?" she asked. "You, um, looked concerned."

"I am. You've got a nail in your tire."

"Oh." She waved him off. "I've run over those before. It's no big deal."

"You didn't run over this nail." He pointed midway up the sidewall. "Somebody had to hammer it in there."

Kasia swallowed. Blake would never intentionally hurt her. "I have no idea who would ..." The words stuck, thick and false on her tongue. She fell silent as a semi blew past, rattling the car windows. Why bother with a convincing story?

His arched eyebrow told her he knew it was a lie.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Strains of Silence"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Bethany Kaczmarek.
Excerpted by permission of Pelican Ventures, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Strains of Silence 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
SandraAllenLovelace More than 1 year ago
Strains of Silence brings to life heart-grabbing characters and an enthralling plot. The authentic style and tone kept me captive to the very last page. Truth, compassion, and rescue oozed into my soul. Thank you, Bethany K. I'm excited about the next two titles.
Mrs_Worthington More than 1 year ago
Strains of Silence was amazing. The first chapter hooked me in and I couldn’t stop reading. So much of the book was either riveting, relatable, or setting up for the next epic moment. I loved Kasia, and how much I understood her. Her trials, her horrors, her memories, everything was real. Accurate. Intense. Believable. I loved watching Bethany weave together Kasia and Zan throughout the story, how she expertly tied in themes of forgiveness, healing, redemption, love, God. So many moments in this novel had me near tears, on the edge of my seat, or ready to swing punches. This is a must-have for my bookshelf, and I think if you pick it up and give it a go, you’ll quickly discover the same.
PianoLady831 More than 1 year ago
Strains of Silence is an emotionally engaging story that shines the light on the very timely subject of domestic abuse – and while I have no personal experience in this area, I suspect it is pretty realistic. But while the topic is serious, there are moments of relief, resulting in a very uplifting read overall. And I loved how well grounded in the Scripture it is. This is a story that captured my attention from the first page and kept me eagerly turning the pages. Blake came across as kind and caring of Kasia at first, gradually pulling her away from her godly convictions, only to become controlling and abusive as time went on. From a non-experienced viewpoint, I was frustrated at Kasia’s slow progress, poor decisions, and defense of his actions – which is probably completely true-to-life. It was an enjoyable break to “visit” Peru through Kasia’s summer missionary experience and see her grow spiritually. I loved how the relationship between Zan and Kasia began with friendship, developing a connection he felt because of his sister’s abusive situation. Zan’s journey from a cynical disbeliever to a man of faith made him an appealing character that I came to care about. There’s a good group of supporting characters that I liked, although I wished for more character depth overall. Sections of the story move at a steady pace, while others more slowly. Purely from a reader’s perspective, some scenes didn’t seem essential to the storyline and slowed its progress down, but it all came together in a realistic reflection of life. Strains of Silence is a moving story that leaves readers with much to reflect upon and I look forward to much more from this author. Recommended. I was provided a copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
MeezCarrie More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars Strains of Silence by Bethany Kaczmarek is a powerful novel about restoration, redemption and hope. Yes, there’s an exquisitely sweet romance, too, but this story is much deeper than falling in love. It’s a portrait of grace in the middle of life’s darkest moments, of friendship, of family, and of faith. Kaczmarek’s writing style is engaging and hits all the feels, and the characters are vividly-drawn and layered. I loved the ethnic diversity and the cultural diversity present here. Please be aware … It’s not an easy read – it deals with a lot of emotionally raw stuff. But at the same time, there is joy and humor and you can’t put it down because you’ve become so invested in these characters. It reminded me so often of his Matt Maher lyric – “Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more.” Not Kasia’s sin or Bailey’s sin (Zan’s sister) but the sin of their abusers … it runs deeps in parts of this novel, affecting more than just the men or Kasia & Bailey. But… Jesus’ amazing grace abounds. (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.)
cscott9 More than 1 year ago
Strains of Silence was one of those books that touches on issues that happen to people we may know. Giving up something that you have a passion for because of the way someone makes you feel or worse because of how the enemy makes you feel. That is what happened to Kasia Bernolak. Kasia loves music but gives it up because she feels she needs to but thats not all she does, she breaks off her engagement to Blake Hamilton. And Blake isn't going to say goodbye that easily.  This book opened my eyes to things that happen all around me and things that have happened in my own family. I have seen people give up their passion because they feel they aren't good enough or others say they aren't. God has the last word in that. He has given us all talents, passions, and gifts. We need to use those for Him. I received a copy of this book for free, a favorable review was not required, All opinions expressed here are my own. 
BethErin More than 1 year ago
The author approaches this sensitive topic with careful compassion. While many of the characters within this story are affected directly or indirectly by abuse, their experiences and reactions are as diverse as their backgrounds and personalities. Variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes, and the main characters’ friends and families are an eclectic bunch, no doubt about that! It is refreshing to experience sufficiently flawed believers and unbelievers in authentic relationships and situations. This story both entertained and encouraged me. Kaczmarek balances the weighty issue of abuse with a healthy dose of levity and the hope of genuine faith woven throughout. I definitely recommend this story and look forward to future work from this author. I requested the opportunity to read and review this book from the publisher and Celebrate Lit. The opinions expressed are my own.
Nutz2read More than 1 year ago
I’m honestly not entirely sure where to start. Though it took a chapter or two, I found this story so utterly compelling. It kept me up much too late more than once and the further I read, the less I wanted to put it down. I had to know how everything was going to work out! I believe this is Bethany Kaczmarek’s debut novel and I will be anxiously awaiting the opportunity to read any future releases! There’s a quality of authenticity within Ms. Kaczmarek’s writing that I so appreciated. I found the characters came to life on the page and invited me into their stories. I don’t know how she did it, but they quickly became dear friends, and I had to pause more than once and remind myself that they were fictional. This story isn’t a light, easy read. More than once I had to pause and wipe tears from my face, at the pain the characters were experiencing. Much of the story focuses on the topic of physical abuse and while I’ve never faced that situation myself, I trust she portrayed it accurately. So much so, that I actually found myself becoming frustrated with Kasia’s behavior toward the guy abusing her, though I understand that it’s most likely true. And my heart just broke for her and others like her. I also really enjoyed getting to know Alexander “Zan” Maddox and especially how Ms. Kaczmarek portrayed his faith journey. The honest questions he asked, the debates and struggles. Again, so very authentic. I confess that I didn’t quite like Zan much, at first. But he definitely grew on me as the story progressed. I felt as though I knew Kasia and Zan quite well, but the other characters remained a bit one-dimensional, which was a little disappointing, because I would’ve so enjoyed getting to know their friends much better. Though I do realize it probably would’ve made the book even longer, and it was tipping at over 400 pages (which flew by for me!). I so enjoy stories that challenge me or pull me out of my world and into the characters’ lives, both of which this book did easily. It isn’t a perfect story, with perfect characters, but there is so much of the author’s heart on each page and I appreciate the hope I found within a tale that could have otherwise been so very dark. Highly recommended! *My thanks to the author for my complimentary copy of this book! I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Suzie_W More than 1 year ago
I’m going to give you fair warning. This book is not a light-hearted, feel-good read. It deals with some difficult subject matter and subsequent feelings of guilt. Yet, Strains of Silence is a poignant story of a young woman coming to terms with the injustices done to her, the innocence stolen from her. When she reaches out to them, Kasia’s friends and family surround her with the protection, support, and love she’s cut herself off from. And in the end, despite the rocky road getting there, God’s faithfulness and forgiveness pave the way for healing and hope for a future filled with joy. Disclosure statement: I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
Laundry_Whispers More than 1 year ago
Before I even get into this review there are disclaimers that I need to provide. This book could be a ginormous trigger on several issues for some readers. I say ginormous because while it is triggering it is also redeeming. A book of hope and overcoming through faith. This book tackles the very heavy topics of dating/domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. It’s not graphic but it’s not cozy either. Statistically, if these topics don’t affect you personally they definitely affect people you know. Christian’s are not immune from these traumas and they are not set aside to just those ‘of the world’ so to speak. I loved this book. It was told with a refreshing honesty and depth that is hard to find in Christian fiction that deals with heavy topics. I’ve read more than my fair share of glossy ‘Jesus heals all’ books, both fiction and nonfiction. Guess what? Jesus helps you heal, he doesn’t do the hard part. Jesus gives you hope, he doesn’t take away the need for hope. Jesus gives you love, even when you feel unlovable. Jesus is not a magic wand that lets you say a prayer and come away ‘fixed’. Before I get too deep into all the ways I loved this book I want to tell you why it’s only 4 star for me. You know the idea that people of a like mind tend to find each other? Yeah, that. Every character in this books seems to be touched, in some way, by the topics of this book. Roommate? Similar experiences. New love interest? Sister in a similar situation. Roommate’s boyfriend? Yup, murdered sister with a potentially similar situation. Outside of Kasia’s family everyone is healing their own situations. It felt a lot overdone. Statistically, completing possible but it was too much for fiction. The other meh thing for me was that while I appreciated that the story didn’t drag it’s feet getting into the heart of the matter, it did lack a lot in overall character development and even some areas of story development. I wasn’t given enough of that magical ‘it’ factor to fully fall head over heels for the characters and situations. I loved them, I embraced them, I cried with them and rejoiced with them but I wasn’t all in so to speak. I loved that, while this book was deeply rooted in a foundation of faith, faith wasn’t treated as a cure all. While there was a conversion or two, the individuals didn’t walk away with their worlds all figured out. I get very frustrated at the books that set a person up to give their life to Christ and then suddenly they are reading the Bible like it’s a novel and it all makes sense and the truths of the gospel are embedded into their entire being and prayer and understanding are like a light switch that was turned on. That’s not how this works, it’s not how any of this works! I love that Zan determined to understand instead of instantly understanding. I love that he tried to figure it out and admitted he didn’t quite get it all. I love that it wasn’t an insta-faith but a growing faith. I loved that when Kasia learned to embrace the love and understanding of her friends and family it wasn’t an insta-fix. She still struggled to accept that they loved her despite what was done to her and what she chose to participate in. Let’s face it, that is more true than any of the insta-s out there. Insta is for fiction that isn’t confident in honesty. The truth is that this book takes a negative relationship and shows the struggles and obstacles that are blocking the path to healing. Th
Virginiaw More than 1 year ago
This is a very intense book. This goes in to how a family handles an abusive boyfriend or spouse. This helps show what the person being abused feels and the people surrounding that person feel. This was well done. I laughed a bit and cried some in this story. I received a copy of this book from Celebratelit for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
MelissaF More than 1 year ago
The tension in this book is high between Kasia and Blake. I kept dreading when he might show up and give her a hard time and what he might do next. Zan's life is messy too and he is lost and has no desire to know the Lord. I wondered how these two lives would intersect and come to care about each other, although their initial attractions were strong. There was a lot going on with many different characters, I did find it hard to keep track of who was who at times and what Kasia was doing next and what her goal was and when she was going where. But overall, a good story with interesting and very real characters. A copy of this book was given to my through the Celebrate Lit Team. All opinions are my own. 
annelr More than 1 year ago
Strains of Silence is a debut offering by Bethany Kaczmarek and is a well-written heartfelt story that deals with a gritty and very real and raw issue of abuse and the impact it has on the lives involved. Abusive relationships are often portrayed as hopeless situations but this author leaves readers with a very strong message of hope and acceptance no matter what has happened in the past. Emotions and actions are portrayed realistically and the characters, too, are believably depicted with their foibles and faults as well as their strengths. I like the image of the father in this story, how he believed in Kasia and loved her unconditionally, such a wonderful picture of our Heavenly Father. There is a strong thread of faith in a personal and living God throughout the book, intricately woven with the message of redemption and grace, and the importance of family and friends. A compelling story not to be missed. I received a complimentary copy of this book via CelebrateLit. A favorable review was not required and opinions are my own. This review is part of a CelebrateLit blog tour.
Anne_Baxter_Campbell More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read by Bethany Kaczmarek, and I think I've found a very talented writer. This romance is in a timely branch of the romance genre, abuse and stalking. While it's definitely uplifting, you can still feel the threads of emotions in the young women who are so terrorized by the ones who should be honoring and protecting them. Kasia Bernolak is engaged to a young man who dominates her and has wrecked her self-esteem. He's pulled her away from God and from her family, shame tearing those precious bonds apart. She gathers up her remaining courage to break the engagement and leave the country, literally. She goes to Peru for a summer-long mission and begins to find herself and her God again--but terror haunts her dreams every night. When she returns home and then back to college, her worst nightmares begin to happen. Blake, her now former fiance', is now her stalker. She makes a decision to go nowhere alone; three guys and her roommate take turns shepherding her from class to home to the place she helps youngsters with their homework. But will it be enough? Apparently not always. What can she do? Find out by getting the book! Well worth the cost of the read! I received a free copy of the book from the author. The review and evaluation are my own opinions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bethany Kaczmarek’s debut novel, Strains of Silence, deftly balances the dark and light—how subtly we can become bound in relationships not good for us—with how we can find paths out, and fearlessly take hold of what truly sets us free. Twenty-year-old, Kasia Bernolak, is engaged to a guy who has gradually distanced her from everything she loves most in the world. But she is unwilling to accept it any longer. Strains of Silence takes on the serious issue of abuse that too many young adults face in dating and marriage today, and how the worst part is that many don’t even recognize the abuse for what it is. Bethany’s writing is honest and heartfelt, and the characters feel like friends—well except for the bad guys, who I’d like to give a nice right-cross. (Maybe that sounds too much like promoting violence? So be it. That’s how I feel.) In following Kasia’s quest to rediscover who she really is, and what real love looks like, it makes me want to further explore the Indie Christian music scene, and volunteer for a mission trip to South America. Strains of Silence is an important book. Like other works of great fiction, it carries a tremendous amount of emotional truth.
Lauren Brandenburg More than 1 year ago
Bethany Kaczmarek perfectly weaves together the lives of two very different college students. It is a story of faith and healing, finding oneself in life's darkness. Kaczmarek not only beautifully illustrates the beauty of forgiveness, but at one point takes the reader on a vibrant journey of self-discovery in Peru. Readers will immediately fall in love with the Polish language, culture, and love of Kasia's family. Strains of Silence is a realistic dive into the mental and physical results of abuse as shown from the point of the view of the abused and family of the abused. The characters are relatable and likable--the college culture in the Christian community is spot on! Five stars! I was given an ARC and asked to write an honest review. After reading and reviewing, I purchased a copy to pass on to a family member who will not only be able to relate but who I believe will find healing in the Biblical truths conveyed throughout the story :)
MelannieS More than 1 year ago
Strains of Silence by Bethany Kaczmarek is a hauntingly beautiful tale of perseverance and strength. Kasia struggles to find the peace that can only come from God. Sometimes the hardest person to be honest with is yourself. But freedom is often found in truth.
Janet Mcneil More than 1 year ago
Just completed reading " Strains of Silence " by Bethany Kaczmarek: have known Bethany for several years and she is a crafter of beautiful thoughts, encouragements and truths. A woman of peace, she relates a story of abuse, brokenness , and freedom to which many of us can relate. She captures your heart and carries you along in hers until the end, where refreshment and redemption begin ,again.