This Is How It Begins: A Novel by Joan DempseyThis Is How It Begins: A Novel by Joan Dempsey

This Is How It Begins: A Novel

byJoan Dempsey

Paperback | October 3, 2017

Pricing and Purchase Info

$20.83 online 
$22.50 list price save 7%
Earn 104 plum® points

In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Winner of the 2017 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers
"In a time when religious liberty is on trial, [this] is an extraordinarily pertinent novel dripping in suspense and powerful scenes of political discourse ... a must-read ...." -FOREWORD (starred review)
"Beautifully written ... An ambitious and moving debut novel." -Lily King, author of the award-winning national bestsellerEuphoria

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 silencing 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. Radio host Warren Meck has been leading the Massachusetts campaign to root out anti-religious bias in public schools-but he believes in working respectfully within the political system, so he's alarmed and offended when his efforts are undermined by someone inciting violent action. Even worse, he fears the culprit is among his inner circle. As Ludka's influential family defends Tommy under increasingly vicious conditions, a stranger with connections to her past shows up and threatens to expose her for illegally hoarding a valuable painting presumed stolen by the Nazis. Compulsively readable,This Is How It Beginsis a timely novel about free speech, the importance of empathy, and the bitter consequences of long-buried secrets.
New England native Joan Dempsey received an MFA and teaching certificate in creative writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Her writing has been published inThe Adirondack Review, Alligator Juniper, Obsidian: Literature of the African Diaspora, andPlenitude Magazine, and aired on National Public Radio. Dempsey was the recipient ...
Title:This Is How It Begins: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:399 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 0.68 inPublished:October 3, 2017Publisher:She Writes PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1631523082

ISBN - 13:9781631523083

Look for similar items by category:


Editorial Reviews

"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". 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 Reviews"Beautifully written, This Is How It Begins wrestles with the fundamental questions of our existence on this earth together. An ambitious and moving debut novel." -Lily King, author of the award-winning national bestseller Euphoria". timely, suspenseful and powerful . a provocative hit."-Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel"In this remarkable novel, Joan Dempsey brings together contemporary America and Holocaust-era Warsaw to tell a riveting tale of family secrets, civil rights, and the persistence of memory. Here are pastors and politicians, teachers and activists, historians and spies-all of them, on every side of the cultural divide, imbued with genuine humanity. This Is How It Beginsis an essential story for our time."-Matthew Goodman, New York Times-bestselling author of Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World"Joan Dempsey's spellbinding novel illuminates how the tides of history repeat themselves with different characters. When a group is targeted for discrimination there will be resisters and rescuers, but mostly bystanders. This is How It Begins superbly demonstrates the clandestine nature of rescue, and the irony that those who ought to be rewarded for their conscience and courage remain hidden, and live in fear. Reading this moving adventure compels us to bear witness to the past and present and think about our own complacency to everyday discrimination in our midst."-Eva Fogelman, Phd is the author of the Pulitzer Prize nominee Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust"Dempsey brings her characters to life with equal parts empathy and tough-mindedness, from the three generations of the Zeilonka family-refugees, artists, politicians, teachers-to the pastor and radio host striving together to remake the United States into a Christian nation. A riveting story of the clash between LGBT and fundamentalist Christian cultures, and the way its violence reawakens historical trauma, this striking debut is essential reading for our times."-Judith Frank, author of All I Love and Know, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist "Joan Dempsey's debut novel is a compelling story that seems to rise out of the rancor of current national headlines about hate, bigotry, and intolerance. The story has deep roots in the darkness of the horrific persecution and betrayal of Jews during World War II. Twin story lines, then and now, illuminate how close we yet remain to the hellish cauldron that fear enflames."-Frank O. Smith, author of Dream Singer, a Bellwether Prize finalist"Joan Dempsey's debut novel explores the limits of empathy and the unpredictability of violence. Thoughtful people who reach opposing conclusions are at the all-too-human center of This Is How It Begins, a prescient road map for our times."Mary Rechner, author of Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women"Into these tumultuous and politically polarized times comes a beautifully wrought novel that plumbs the roots of bigotry, hatred and intolerance. This Is How It Begins makes it clear that we have been down this road before and we ignore the lessons of history at our own peril. A riveting, immensely satisfying read."-Bill Lundgren, co-author of Becoming (Other)wise: Enhancing Critical Reading Perspectives"This exquisitely drawn and timely novel will remind you why we have freedom of expression, ideas, sexuality and religion, and leave you wondering why we're so quick to forget the lessons of the past." -Paddy Murphy, Material Pictures