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Paperback Details
  • 03/2019
  • 978-1-54395-970-3
  • 492 pages
  • $26.95
Sentencing Silence

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Sentencing Silence weaves poetry and prose to tell the stories of three personae of one woman struggling to reclaim her identity after escaping intimate partner violence and navigating the crippling, lifelong effects of incest. Set in 1980s Chicago, June is a young housewife determined to create the safe home she never had by replicating the dollhouse fantasies into which she escaped as a child. While denying the escalating memories of her past and patterns she is doomed to repeat, she submerges herself in domesticity while yielding to an abusive husband who methodically shatters her self-worth and dismisses her dream of writing and pursuing a college degree. After reluctantly participating with her husband and his circle of friends’ perverse sexual fantasies, the marriage turns violent and June is forced to find a way out. Embracing her anger, June reinvents herself as Reni, a call girl, who calculates how many tricks she must turn to afford college full time. She quickly finds her earnings must be utilized solely as emancipation from a desperate and dangerous existence. As if by a miracle, she finds love with a free-spirited female artist who renames her Sandy for her softness and her grit, but unable to escape her past demons, she loses herself in depression and addiction and becomes the abuser in the relationship. After a near fatal bus accident, June/Reni/Sandy must claim her memories, create a new language, and confront the traumatic childhood holding her captive to learn that her voice is the key to salvation.
Plot/Idea: 5 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 7.50 out of 10


Plot:This novel is about incest and abuse survival; it is painful to read, partly because of the subject matter and partly because the storytelling is simultaneously gritty and opaque. The reading experience is a heavy weight, and could be made less confusing and overwhelming by focusing on the main story arc and characters without overloading the reader.

Prose/Style:The author has a gift for writing beautiful, detailed prose and embellished, vivid descriptions.

Originality: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.

Character Development:The characters are portrayed realistically, but they are not particularly likable or compelling. The final line of the story is uplifting, but arriving at this destination somehow fails to provide enough of a payoff for everything the main character (and the reader) has been put through.

Date Submitted: April 04, 2019


Sentencing Silence is the real deal. The writing is wonderful, and poetic, and compelling, and so evocative that it puts you right there with the characters. Nesbitt shows us a real life that travels the painful path from the beginnings of self-realization through inchoate fury and finally into healing. As the reader traveling this path with June, Reni, and Sandy we are by turns infuriated by June's inability to recognize the abusive signs in her own marriage; we root for Reni's strength and resolve, even though she seems to have turned on herself; we grieve for the depth of Sandy's loss and pain, then cheer for her awakening and hope for her healing.

If you know someone who has ever been abused, if you love someone, or want to understand someone more deeply who carries this burden, Sentencing Silence is an incredibly well-written and powerful masterpiece that evokes, rather than explains, the full gamut of emotional responses through lively and amazingly well-developed characters. I absolutely loved this book almost as much as it challenged me to see things more clearly. – Amazon Reviewer

"I began reading Sentencing Silence late one evening and before I knew it, it was ten o'clock in the morning; I couldn't put it down. I was already a fan of Nesbitt's poetry, but her prose, laced in lyricism, exceeded my expectations! Quite frankly, this novel blew me away. Nesbitt knows how to hold an audience spellbound with anticipation and bring the reader into both the state of mind of the narrator and the state of how trauma suspends a victim's ability to move forward. … In the end, Sentencing Silence tells us that denying our pasts, dismissing the trauma we have experienced only makes that trauma our guiding factor. We must use our voices to heal our wounds. Sentencing Silence is a powerful and incredibly well-executed novel.”    – Ruth La Sure, Writer and Photographer

Ellen Wade Beals Editor

“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, and editor and publisher of Solace in So Many Words.

Sentencing Silence Finalist in 2019 National Indie Excellence Awards in Literary



The 13th Annual National Indie Excellence® Awards (NIEA) recognize our Winners and Finalists from this year's robust competition.

A leader and veteran of publishing award contests, The National Indie Excellence® Awards are open to recent English language books in print from independent, university, and self-publishers. Judging is now completed for the 13th year of this competition and the results commend a wide range of truly excellent titles.

​​The National Indie Excellence® Awards celebrate independent publishing as a strong and proud sector of the publishing industry. Recognizing the merit of authors, publishers, editors and designers NIEA champions self-publishers and the independent presses who go the “extra mile” to produce high quality books in all aspects from the written word to design and production. Established in 2007, NIEA’s entrants are carefully judged by experts from various facets of the book industry profession including publishers, writers, editors, and designers.

Winners and finalists are determined on a basis of superior written matter coupled with excellent presentation in every facet of the final published product. Jurors value the synergy of form and content as they review entries spanning a wide range of genres. Sponsorship awards and monetary prizes are selected from the overall group of Winners and Finalists.

"We are proud to announce this year’s award-winning books as they embody the excellence this award was created to celebrate. We salute you all for such fine work!" - Ellen Reid, Founder National Indie Excellence® Awards​

Paperback Details
  • 03/2019
  • 978-1-54395-970-3
  • 492 pages
  • $26.95