I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by CelebrateLit, NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.Strains of Silence by Bethany Kaczmarek
Published by Pelican Ventures, LLC on 2017-08
Genres: Christian, Fiction, General, New Adult, Romance
Source: CelebrateLit, NetGalley
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-fianc�, 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.
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. This book takes the truth that even those with deep faith can struggle. This book provides the idea that with the love in God and from God struggles can be overcome. It doesn’t have to be struggles like domestic violence and sexual assault. Every hurt that we struggle with lends itself to the need to fall into God’s arms and his love and his acceptance. I loved this book. The healing appeal has a relevance in both a Christian and secular world. The message that healing is hard work but can be done. The idea that to truly heal you must face what you fear most (whether within yourself or from an external source). The idea that God won’t take it away but he will help you through.