CoffeeBreakBooksYou would think that after reading a book 16 times, having it edited by a raft of talented folks at a publishing house, and knowing readers are already pre-ordering it would give an author a smidge of confidence. But something happens between the time I sign off on the final read-through the time a book actually hits shelves.

Doubts creep in.

Which means those first reviews can feel pretty tender. When Silence Sings officially releases five weeks from tomorrow. But it’s already available via Netgalley. This is a site where influencers (e.g. bloggers, reviewers, librarians, etc.) can discover and recommend new books before they officially release.

And on September 20 CoffeeBreakBooks posted the first review.

It was good. Phew.

So, at the risk of tooting my own horn, here’s the first official reader review of When Silence Sings.

When Silence Sings is a beautifully written, complex, and thoughtful historical set in West Virginia in 1930. This is not a light formula tale of a typical hero and heroine overcoming obstacles and then living happily ever after. Instead, as the stage is gradually set, we are introduced to a number of characters whose importance and impact become known as story layers are eventually and, sometimes, surprisingly peeled away – Colman Harpe, Ivy Gordon, Serepta McLean, Jake McLean, Charlie, and Uncle Webb, among others. What might have typically been considered secondary characters and locations are equally important in this novel. Without revealing plot elements, I found myself reassessing my thoughts on certain characters and events as the story unfolded, and, even now, I am still reflecting on the truths and lessons learned. An interesting example is found with aspiring preacher Colman Harpe, a multifaceted character trying to bridge the feud, who seemed to struggle with the feeling he was a Bible “storyteller” rather than a classic sermonizer. I also thought the author excelled in her presentation of Serepta McLean – a character who evoked very strong feelings.

Sarah Loudin Thomas paints a picture with words – the smells, tastes, and sounds, plus her use of old time metaphors and slang really bring the tale alive to all senses. Compassion, dismay, suspicion, mistrust, and faithfulness are among the wide array of emotions one might experience reading this story.