This Is How It Begins

Joan Dempsey (Author)


One of "5 more over 50" writers to watch--Poets & 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 past--a 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 painting--a 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.

Product Details

Price: $16.95  $15.59
Publisher: She Writes Press
Published Date: October 03, 2017
Pages: 399
Dimensions: 5.2 X 1.0 X 7.9 inches | 0.9 pounds
Language: English
Type: Paperback
ISBN: 9781631523083
BISAC Categories:

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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


2018 IPPY Bronze Medal Winner in Literary Fiction 2017 Foreword Indies Finalist in Adult Fiction--Historical 2018 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in Gay Fiction 2017-2018 Sarton Women's Book Award Finalist in Contemporary Fiction 2017 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers Winner in Fiction "... an extraordinarily pertinent novel dripping in suspense and powerful scenes of political discourse ... a must-read ...." --FOREWORD (starred review) "... Dempsey's fine first novel [is] notable for the evenhanded way it addresses hot-button issues. The result is a timely and memorable story." --BOOKLIST "A gripping and sensitive portrait of ordinary people wrestling with ideological passions." --KIRKUS "Dempsey's fine debut, set in 2009, explores how hate, fear, and intolerance cast a lifelong shadow. Current events have only made this gripping story more relevant." --LIBRARY JOURNAL "... a thought-provoking and timely novel." --THE ADVOCATE " ... [Dempsey's] talent is evident ... a fast-paced, entertaining read." --MAINE SUNDAY TELEGRAM "... timely, suspenseful and powerful exploration of the ... conflict between religious freedom and civil rights ... a provocative hit." --KENNEBEC JOURNAL "... [the novel] is nothing if not timely ... an enticing read." --MAINE WOMEN MAGAZINE "... a page-turner ... a perfect book club choice for these contentious times." --HUNGRY FOR GOOD BOOKS " ... a writer worth watching, a novel worth reading." --B. Lynn Goodwin, STORY CIRCLE BOOK REVIEWS "A remarkable novel ... an essential story for our time." --MATTHEW GOODMAN, New York Times bestselling author of Eighty Days "A spellbinding novel ... a moving adventure ..." --DR. EVA FOGELMAN, Pulitzer Prize Nominee for Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust "A riveting story ... this striking debut is essential reading for our times." --JUDITH FRANK, Lambda Literary Award Finalist for All I Love and Know "... a prescient road map for our times." --MARY RECHNER, author of Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women "... a compelling story that seems to rise out of ... current national headlines." --FRANK O. SMITH, Bellwether Prize finalist for Dream Singer