Sentencing Silence (Paperback)

What is it that we cannot hold in our hands that holds us like a fist?

By Kathleen Cecilia Nesbitt

BookBaby, 9781543959703, 524pp.

Publication Date: April 15, 2019

List Price: 26.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


What is it we cannot hold in our hands that holds us like a fist? This is the question that June, Reni and Sandy must answer. Each of them only wants to return to college to study and write poetry, but the circumstances of their lives make this impossible. Set in 1980s Chicago, June, a trophy wife, denies her future by submerging herself in domestic life as she tries to repair a damaged and dangerous marriage. Reni, embracing her anger, decides becoming a call girl is both her fate and a fast-track to earning tuition and living independently. Sandy, a factory worker, falls deeply in love with an eccentric young artist who promises to return her to a time of unadulterated innocence. With each turn through tragic loss and increasing silence, they slowly realize that it is that very silence they've been burdened to keep that prevents them not only from realizing their hopes, but the possibility of any meaningful existence. Sentencing Silence, a 2019 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist in Literary Fiction, takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery toward breaking the silence inherent in rape culture and sexual abuse that holds its survivors captive in the traumatic pasts that thwart their dreams.

About the Author

Kathleen Cecilia Nesbitt studied fiction and poetry writing at Columbia College in her hometown of Chicago, and earned an MA in Transformative Language Arts and an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. She has worked voluntarily assisting incest survivors, domestic abuse survivors, incarcerated women, homeless teen mothers, and veterans with PTSD break their silence through the healing power of the written word. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Big City Lit, 20 Pounds of Headlights, Mojave River Review, Threads, Dagda, Dead Beats, and Whiskey Island Review. She is currently working on her second novel in between walking her beloved, old English Cocker Spaniel, learning to cook like a boss, gardening, and dancing the Argentine Tango. She lives in San Jose, California. She is a survivor.

Praise For Sentencing Silence: What is it that we cannot hold in our hands that holds us like a fist?

"In this heartbreakingly beautiful book, Kathleen Cecilia Nesbitt takes the reader on a gut-wrenching ride through emotional and physical devastation—and ultimately redemption—all of it told in gorgeous, poetic prose. A marvel of creativity." Joyce Polance, Artist and Writer

"The beauty and strength of Sentencing Silence is in its telling. Each of the characters recounts her story, related through narration that switches seamlessly between present day and memory, as Nesbitt's sure hand and deft pacing guide the reader effortlessly through the journey. The fluid prose is both captivating and uncoils like a dream through characters who love words, but who are emotionally stunted and rendered mute by trauma. Even the minor details are poetic—a voice 'cracking like a branch,' a girl with 'faucet water skin,' and the moon over Walgreens that is 'a ripe mango on top of a baby grand.' Once you begin Sentencing Silence, you're bound to read it to the end." —Ellen Wade Beals: Writer, editor and publisher of Solace in So Many Words.

"Nesbitt has a gift for writing beautiful, detailed prose and embellished, vivid descriptions. The story itself is not wholly novel, but the way it is told is very original. The primary point of the storytelling is to provide an experience of being so immersed in the narrator's point of view that it feels like the reader is drowning in the emotional and psychological burdens of trauma." —The BookLife Prize