One of “5 more over 50” writers to watchPoets & Writers magazine
2018 LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALIST
2018 MAY SARTON WOMEN’S BOOK AWARD FINALIST
WINNER, 2017 POETS & WRITERS MAUREEN EGEN WRITERS EXCHANGE AWARD
“Beautifully written … an ambitious and moving debut novel.”
LILY KING, award-winning national bestseller of Euphoria
In 2009, eighty-five-year-old art professor Ludka Zeilonka gets drawn into a political firestorm when her grandson, Tommy, is among a group of gay Massachusetts teachers fired for allegedly discriminating against Christian kids in high school classrooms. The ensuing battle to reinstate the teachers raises the specter of Ludka's World War II pasta past she's spent a lifetime trying to forget.
The firings are the brainchild of Warren Meck, a deeply religious local radio host and father of three who is hoping to pass a religious freedom bill in Massachusetts. Meck favors achieving his goals through careful planning and legislation, and is disturbed when violence erupts. His concern quickly turns to alarm when he realizes those within his inner circle might be inciting the violence.
As Ludka's esteemed political family defends Tommy under increasingly vicious conditions, a stranger with connections to Ludka's past shows up and threatens to expose her for illegally hoarding a valuable painting presumed stolen by the Nazis. Only one other person knew about the paintinga man she's been trying to find for sixty years.
Compulsively readable, This Is How It Begins is a timely novel about free speech, religious freedom, the importance of empathy and the bitter consequences of long-buried secrets.
|Publisher:||She Writes Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
New England native Joan Dempsey received an MFA and teaching certificate in creative writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Her writing has been published in The Adirondack Review, Alligator Juniper, Obsidian: Literature of the African Diaspora , and Plenitude Magazine , and aired on National Public Radio. Dempsey was the recipient of a significant research grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation for her work on This Is How It Begins. She lives in Maine with her partner and their family of animals. Find her online at www.joandempsey.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really lived with the characters in this book while I was reading it and for quite a while afterward.. The writing is impeccable. Perhaps more important, the generosity of spirit made me able to understand a position I totally disagree with. Thank you, Joan Dempsey.
The plot is well-imagined and intelligent, and the scenes made me feel like I was there, with the descriptions and character interactions so seamless that I was deeply drawn in. And the ending pulls the premise of the story together so well. As I read those last words, I could hear myself thinking, "yes, yes, this is how it begins. We think it's innocuous just this one time, but before we know it, the slippage is there, the incidents are mounting, and the slope is getting steeper." I hope the readership of this book gains steam and that it gets the attention it deserves.
I enjoyed and was captivated and intrigued by “This is How it Begins ” by Joan Dempsey. The genres for this Novel are Historical Fiction and Fiction. Kudos to Joan Dempsey for weaving different layers into this story. There are two separate storylines. According to the blurb,” Compulsively readable, This Is How It Begins is a timely novel about free speech, the importance of empathy, and the bitter consequences of long kept secrets.” The author describes the characters of the story as complicated and complex. This is possibly due to the political agenda and climate in this story. The year is 2009, and a main character , Ludka Zeilonka, an 85 year old art professor gets involved in the political upset when her grandson Tommy, a gay teacher is fired. Both Ludka’s husband and son have been active in politics, and Tommy is supported by his father’s liberal support of gay rights, and also is against firing for any kind of discrimination. Tommy is only on of several gay teachers fired. There is a Christian Right wing group that is saying it believes that Tommy has been depriving Christian believing children from learning. Radio-host Warren Meck has political aspirations and believes that his Catholic children are being deprived of the proper learning in school. Unfortunately there are riots and violence, and Warren Mack prefers using words. Ludka has the sickening feeling of remembering during World War Two when the Nazis were oppressive. This reminds her of that. Only then Ludka had many dark secrets. One was that she rescued children before the Nazis got to them. Also Ludka had a part in trying to save the Polish Jewish people’s art that was being taken by the Nazis. As Ludka thinks about what is happening to her grandson, someone from her past threatens her. I appreciate that the author brings up topics such as discrimination, , gay rights, minority rights, bias, bullying, violence, betrayal, and secrets and how harmful they are. The author also discusses honesty, communicating, compromising, empathy, love, hope, family friends and community. I would highly recommend this novel to those who appreciate Historical Fiction. I received an Advanced Reading Copy for my honest review.