It Happened in Silence

A beautifully written, page-turning southern suspense novel

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Pub Date 30 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 1 Nov 2021

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Set in a world where women of the KKK betray their neighbors, where horrors of unscrupulous foundling homes come to light, and buried mysteries are not all that hidden.

It's Georgia 1921. Mute since birth, fifteen-year-old Willow Stewart has one task to complete—to leave her Appalachian homestead and find a traveling preacher and her brother, Briar. When a peddler kidnaps her, she escapes only to face an unjust arrest and penal servitude. The laws are not on her side. Or her brother’s.

Briar is serving time on a chain gang with four months left. When an immigrant boy asks him for help, Briar must decide if he should jeopardize his freedom to help the penniless boy.

Soon Willow and Briar become ensnared in a world of cruel secrets, savage truths, deceitful practices, and desperate predicaments.

This novel delves into the gut and sinew of fairness, probing often inexplicable questions, as old and persistent as the forest itself.

Set in a world where women of the KKK betray their neighbors, where horrors of unscrupulous foundling homes come to light, and buried mysteries are not all that hidden.

It's Georgia 1921. Mute since...

Advance Praise

"An inspiring story of injustice and family loyalty set in turbulent 1920s Georgia. Powerfully written and totally unputdownable!...If you happen to be a fan of Laura Frantz's Uncommon Woman or The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, this novel is for you. Enjoy! This book's a gem!' ~ Wishing Shelf ★★★★★

2021 Benjamin Franklin Silver Award

2021 Distinguished Favorite Historical Fiction, Independent Publisher Award"

"An inspiring story of injustice and family loyalty set in turbulent 1920s Georgia. Powerfully written and totally unputdownable!...If you happen to be a fan of Laura Frantz's Uncommon Woman or The...

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ISBN 9780578792514

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Featured Reviews

This was a thought provoking novel I will say. I cannot thank this author enough for this literary masterpiece. I always love reading about families and anything domestic and though this was heartbreaking, I think the author delivered exactly what was needed in this book. It was utterly compelling and I felt drawn to the story as I continued reading and felt connected to the characters like never before. This is set in 1920’s Georgia going between the wealthy and those who lived in poverty and a time where black and white people were treated unequally, the unjust system in America is vividly portrayed which made everything more the more heartbreaking. This was a tragic view of one of histories most violent and tormenting moments and the characters are flawed and extremely complex. That’s what makes this book feel so human and enthralling to read, I will definitely be picking up more works from this author in the future.

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"Until a man is struck in his own face, he does not want to believe the attack on his brother concerns him." (Leon Uris) You'll find yourself sitting with this one for a while. The cruelties of life wear an abundance of different faces carrying empty hearts along the way........ Karla M. Jay has created quite the read here told through the distinct voices of three individuals who find themselves wrapped in the winds of existence in Georgia in 1921. Living in the South during that era was to live and breathe within a pressure cooker of overt racism and discrimination. While a mouth spewed rancid words of hate, furious fists spoke a whole different language. But not all individuals bathed in this hate. Willow Stewart, fifteen and mute, lived with her family on Stewart Hill in the backcountry of Georgia. Her mother had just given birth to a stillborn and it was apparent that the woman would not survive herself. Poppy, Willow's father, has sent Willow to the next town to bring back the local preacher for a proper burial. Willow and her brother, Briar, had invented hand signals in order to communicate. Willow, bright and an accomplished reader, took to writing on small bits of paper. She promised to return with the preacher. But promises are broken under circumstances that are beyond us. And sometimes our actions and decisions will lead us astray into the darkest strains of trouble. Willow stops along the roadside to help a man in distress. Her kindness gets herself thrown into the back of his traveling van. It's here that things will begin to come undone for Willow. The strictness of Southern laws and the deviousness of people will keep Willow away from her original intent. Her story will become the center of this novel. Briar, Willow's brother, has been cast out from the family home. He and Poppy had words because of Briar's actions at a mining camp that involved the oldest son, Luther. Forgiveness is held tightly in the pocket of the proud. The family doesn't realize that Briar is now on a chain gang serving time for possible vagrancy. The judge claimed a man should have at least a dollar to his name or he was looking for trouble. Another man was sentenced to two years because "He was walking without a purpose". Briar is hellbent on returning home and righting any wrongs. His is a remarkable storyline. And then we have Ardith Dobbs who tends to her secrets and leads a life built on lies. She is currently married to William and lives in an upscale home. But no matter how much fancy lace and silk you wear, the stains of a heartless soul will always seep through. Ardith is the treasurer of the Daisy Ladies' Society which caters to the works of charity that disguises the behemoth of the KKK. She and William are active members. The story of Ardith will curl your hair......... What held this novel so tightly for me was Karla M. Jay's solid weaving of the goodness that resides in humanity. While the tense rays of cruelties and abysmal behaviors tend to pellet life for so many, she steps forward with the strength of the intent of those who will not tolerate such displays. And it is the inner voice of Willow, mute and soundless, who will have the greatest impact on an almost impossible situation. And we'll feel the gong of reverberations even after the last page...... I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Book Circle Press and to Karla M. Jay for the opportunity.

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This truly is one of the best historical fictions I have ever read, and I appreciate the effort and time the writer put into research. The book feels authentic and is interesting from the perspective of a total history enthusiast. This book does not sugar coat, especially the lack of equality during the time. The characters are made to feel complex and raw, even with the clear difference in decade, they are still relatable. Over all, this book is great and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction.

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Willow is a mountain girl, mute but well-read and intelligent. She is fifteen years old when she is sent on horseback on a mission to retrieve a preacher to bury her dead infant brother and possibly her very sick mother. She stops to help a peddler when her journey begins. Big brother Briar, working as a trustee in a nearby forest in Georgia has his own issues and his own story. Together they make a journey that encompasses many adventures, losses, and much corruption in the Georgia legal and penal system of 1921. The simple life of the mountains is everything to fifteen-year-old Willow who encounters many obstacles to her return. Older brother Briar has a good heart that almost gets him killed and has an equally difficult journey. Both encounter evil in the form of prejudice and greed. The main characters in this book are rich and engaging. Researching this difficult time and putting the research in the form of an entertaining narrative was well done by author Karla Jay. The plot intertwines the stories of Brian and Willow into a very rich read. Thanks to #ItHappenedinSilence#NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Excellent story! Totally engrossing!. Looking forward to reading more by this author! Could not put this down!

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A very thorough and well-researched novel, told from the points of view of three different characters, living in Georgia in the 1920s. I was wrapped up in this novel for days, and now that I am finished, I am still playing back the story in my head. There were many points during this novel where I shook my head in disgust at the lack of human kindness and empathy during that time. The language was authentic and held true to the time period and location. There were many things I have never heard of before, specifically the WKKK, and the terrifying picture inserted at the back of the novel. The baby farms are truly heartbreaking and horrific and I have honestly never heard of this as well. This author did her research well and I applaud her work in bringing these issues out in this novel. As a lover of historical fiction, this was just the book I was in search for! The historical fiction genre very much lacks in relation to issues surrounding the woman of the KKK, as well as baby farms. This was a meticulously-researched novel and this author has gained a devoted fan! Looking forward to many more by this very talented author! Many thanks to NetGalley for the advanced digital copy, as well as publisher and author. Well done!

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First, I must give a caution here. Due to the covered time period 1920’s being a very shameful time in our country’s history there maybe parts to this story that are very painful to read. I know this was a very emotional read for me and maybe for you. Despite the difficulty I urge you to read this book. It is beautifully written and even the most difficult parts are only addressed as necessary to tell the story. Each scene is handled sensitively, there is no sensationalism here. Some of the covered topics are racism, sexism, the kkk, the wkkk, baby farms and chain gangs. It was a time when kindness was often only extended to those similar to oneself and Justice was only available if you were white, wealthy and in the south, Protestant. To avoid ruining the book for anyone I will not go further then telling you a little bit about the narrators of the story. Willow is our female protagonist. She has been mute since birth but hears well and can read and write and utilizes a sign language she and her mother created. After her brother dies at birth and her mother suffers complications she is tasked with leaving the mountain they live on to go and get the preacher. Trouble finds Willow along the way and it is her struggle to get home that her part of the story centers on. Brier is Willows’ brother. He left home 15 months prior to the start of our story. He rode the rails for a time going from job to job. He is now serving time on a chain gang making turpentine in the woods. He has 4 months left on his sentence and is a trustee. He avoids anything that will jeopardize his freedom. Oh, his crime was not having at least a dollar in his pocket. Ardith is a well to do wife and mother. She is very active in several social clubs, charity work and the WKKK. She is very proud of all her activities and her standing in the community is of utmost concern. She uses lies and manipulation to get out of situations, mostly of her own creation. Is she an evil bigot or just a product of her time? This book is flawless. The author has done a great job evoking time and place. Characters are fully fleshed out and act according to the time period. This book is strongly suggested for those who love accurate, well plotted and detailed Historical Fiction. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, Books Go Social and Netgalley. This fact in no way influenced my review.

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What a fabulous well researched book. I was mesmerized from the first page! I read this in one setting, I just couldn't put it down. I really enjoy anything written about the south, and this one is over the top good. Lots of great characters to love and just as many to hate. Set in the 1920's in Georgia. Lots of racism and absolutely nothing is sugar coated. This was a tough time in our country for minorities, especially in the south. There is also lots of class division between rich and poor. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes this genre. You will love it. Thanks to Net gallery for allowing me to read this beautifully written arc in exchange for my honest review.

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It's been a while since I have found an immersive story with such an abundance of multi-dimensional characters along with a solid story line. This is the full package. The author does a fantastic job of integrating some of the more horrifying aspects of American history from baby selling to white supremacy to prison work programs. Each character in the story brings different historical themes to life and eventually the stories and characters all merge together into a satisfying conclusion.

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