Contemporary Fiction, Review

Strains of Silence by Bethany Kaczmarek

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Strains of Silence by Bethany Kaczmarek Celebrate Lit tour and giveaway

Hi, reader friends! Today, we welcome new-to-me author, Bethany Kaczmarek, as part of a book tour for her debut novel!

about the book

Book: Stains of Silence
Author: Bethany Kaczmarek
Release date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Stains 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.

 goodreads | amazon | bookdepository


my thoughts

Survivors of abusive relationships struggle to shed the weight of despair, isolation, and worthlessness and while family and loyal friends can encourage, guide, and protect during this journey, there’s only One Source of true freedom, healing, and restoration.

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 received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. The opinions expressed are my own.


about the author

Bethany Kaczmarek

Bethany Kaczmarek 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.

website | facebook | twitter


guest post from Bethany Kaczmarek

Strains of Silence: A Novel for Anyone Who Can Say #MeToo

We’re everywhere. After years of silence, many survivors of sexual assault are raising our voices. You’ve seen the hashtag. You know someone who suffered like this—a friend, a sister, a daughter.

Maybe you know personally what it’s like to be used.

I’m thankful for the conversations the #MeToo campaign has started, proud of the brave women who are speaking out. But I know some are still quiet, nursing wounds.

I could list loads of valid reasons a victim chooses to suffer in silence.

  • People won’t believe her.
  • If she doesn’t say it out loud, it’s easier to pretend it was a nightmare.
  • He’s got authority over her—at work, at church, in the family—and it’ll cost her too much. He’s done enough damage already.
  • He’s threatened to destroy her reputation, and she believes him. One, because he’ll do it without flinching. Two, because she’s already convinced that she’s living a lie.
  • Because at church, she’s supposed to be fine, smiling, rejoicing in her suffering and pressing on. Besides, people don’t want to sit with her in her pain and listen. They’d rather offer bumper-sticker theology and trite spiritual bandages.
  • The few times she’s tried to speak up, her used-to-be friend basically made her feel like it was her fault.


The list could go on, but it’s fair to say that being honest about what happened to us makes us vulnerable all over again. The idea is understandably stressful.

But you know what? Pretending we’re fine is exhausting too. We bear a great strain when we hide our hurts, for whatever reason.

Kasia Bernolak, the heroine of my novel Strains of Silence, gets it. She’s got reasons for keeping it quiet too. But when God brings some new people into her life, she realizes she doesn’t have to be alone.

And speaking up offers a freedom, a lightness, she wants.

It’s a freedom I want for my readers.

I know. Strains of Silence sounds like a heavy book right now. The themes are heavy, no doubt. There’s no glossing over and prettying up sexual assault or domestic violence. But—just like in real life—it’s how well we surround and support the suffering that can set the tone. Kasia’s friends are real, they’re funny, they’re quirky, and they believe in her.

Besides, it’s not all dark and brooding. There’s travel—an entire summer in the mountains of Peru. There’s a lot of music—Kasia’s a singer/song-writer who loves indie artists (I’ve got a playlist on my website). There’s heritage and culture—meet her immigrant family and you’ll get a delicious taste of Poland. There’s humor—enough to keep the story light when you need it to be.

hopeAnd there’s hope. Kasia’s life is absolutely full of possibility.

So are the lives of everyone who can say #MeToo.

Sometimes, it just helps to see someone else fight the battle on our own horizon. And if you can do it with a fantastic new playlist and some laughs, why not?

My hope is that Strains of Silence will lead to real discussions with reader-friends, book-club gatherings that become turning points, and the true pursuit of freedom. It’s time to throw off the burdens we wear and stand up. Raise your voice, link arms with others, and fight for hope.

Healing is within our reach.



To celebrate her tour, Bethany is giving away a grand grand prize: a signed book, a Polish pottery mug with two of the main character’s favorite kinds of teas, 4 of her favorite albums (Josh Garrels, Waterdeep, The Gray Havens, and Andrew Greer), a box of chocolate butter cookies, and a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Strains of Silence by Bethany Kaczmarek Celebrate Lit tour giveaway

Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!
See what other readers are saying and earn additional entries by checking out other stops on the tour schedule!

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Say hi to Bethany and share your thoughts, reader friends!

23 thoughts on “Strains of Silence by Bethany Kaczmarek”

  1. Oh, I love it. And you’ve now “met” the reason I grew up getting called Betherynn. The two of us used to stay up late telling each other stories long before we ever thought to put them to paper. And I just love that THIS story is out in the world now. There might just be a little of me in that snarky overly-involved little Lenka (the real hero of the story). Kidding. KIDDING!
    But seriously, I lived your review, and I love this story with my whole heart. I hope it brings healing to those who have lived it.


  2. The timing for this novel couldn’t be any better. I was raised to be aware of the signs of abuse, and it breaks my heart to see others struggling with such a painful situation in their lives. I’m excited to see what kind of hope and peace Kasia and Zan find together, though!


  3. “Because at church, she’s supposed to be fine, smiling, rejoicing in her suffering and pressing on. Besides, people don’t want to sit with her in her pain and listen. They’d rather offer bumper-sticker theology and trite spiritual bandages.” Sad, but true. So glad God doesn’t forsake us. ???? #METOO


  4. I love that faith is intertwined in this novel. I want to read about characters who rely on Jesus to help them through bad times. This issue is emotional and I want to share in this character’s journey.


  5. Enjoyed your review of “Stains of Silence, which reaffirms my desire to read it, as well as the guest post from Bethany Kaczmarek.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net


  6. I appreciate that there are moments of levity in the book. Sometimes reading about a dark or heavy subject takes a toll on my heart.


  7. Hi Beth and Bethany. Great review and information. This sounds like a fascinating, though heart-rending book. I’m putting it on my TBR list.


  8. I’m so glad we’re moving beyond the sweep it under the rug responses of years past. Training to recognize signs of abuse and being taught how to respond to someone who finally breaks the silence are so important.


  9. I’m so glad this is being addressed in a book. Although it sounds heavy I’m glad that the author brought humor into the story.


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