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When Silence Sings

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After the rival McLean clan guns down his cousin, Colman Harpe chooses peace over seeking revenge with his family. But when he hears God tell him to preach to the McLeans, a failed attempt to run away leaves him sick and suffering in their territory. He soon learns that appearances can be deceiving, and the face of evil doesn't look like he expected After the rival McLean clan guns down his cousin, Colman Harpe chooses peace over seeking revenge with his family. But when he hears God tell him to preach to the McLeans, a failed attempt to run away leaves him sick and suffering in their territory. He soon learns that appearances can be deceiving, and the face of evil doesn't look like he expected


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After the rival McLean clan guns down his cousin, Colman Harpe chooses peace over seeking revenge with his family. But when he hears God tell him to preach to the McLeans, a failed attempt to run away leaves him sick and suffering in their territory. He soon learns that appearances can be deceiving, and the face of evil doesn't look like he expected After the rival McLean clan guns down his cousin, Colman Harpe chooses peace over seeking revenge with his family. But when he hears God tell him to preach to the McLeans, a failed attempt to run away leaves him sick and suffering in their territory. He soon learns that appearances can be deceiving, and the face of evil doesn't look like he expected

30 review for When Silence Sings

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas is a powerful Christian historical novel set in 1930. Some details are factual, around which the author has woven her story. The main focus of the novel is an ancient feud, sparked by jealousy of the gifts from God. It is Old Testament stuff – an eye for an eye but Jesus shows us a new way, He calls us to love our enemies and to forgive. “God loves everyone – no matter how wrong we might think they are.” It does not matter what we think of people, each on When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas is a powerful Christian historical novel set in 1930. Some details are factual, around which the author has woven her story. The main focus of the novel is an ancient feud, sparked by jealousy of the gifts from God. It is Old Testament stuff – an eye for an eye but Jesus shows us a new way, He calls us to love our enemies and to forgive. “God loves everyone – no matter how wrong we might think they are.” It does not matter what we think of people, each one is a child of God. The feud is fuelled by anger. We need to let our anger go. When we cannot do this in our strength, we must ask God for help. “It was going to take long hours on his knees to let this anger go.” God asks that we are obedient to His calling. At its core, the novel has the Jonah theme. Sometimes God has to bring us to our knees before we obey Him. Far better to respond when we first heart His voice. God uses a child to soften a heart of stone. Fences around a heart meant to protect, have imprisoned instead. Jesus used parables to teach lessons. People will learn far more through stories than when we bash them with our Bibles. We need to live and love like Jesus. Trust is a major theme. It requires little trust when we can see in the light. Trusting in the dark is a whole new level. “When you can’t trust anyone else, trust God.” God looks at our hearts. Within the novel there is prejudice against skin colour – one is too dark, another too light. We need to look beyond the surface to see the heart that beats beneath. When Silence Sings was a wonderful and powerful read. It was beautiful to witness hearts turning to God. I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    From the author: Yes, I love all of my books. I mean, it's kind of required--right? But writing Serepta McLean for this story has been such an adventure for me. Even though (or maybe because) she's awful! She broke my heart and gave me hope. I hope she does the same for you. From the author: Yes, I love all of my books. I mean, it's kind of required--right? But writing Serepta McLean for this story has been such an adventure for me. Even though (or maybe because) she's awful! She broke my heart and gave me hope. I hope she does the same for you.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kav

    I'm being struck speechless by quite a few books lately and When Silence Sings joins the group. Profoundly captivating. It's really impossible to describe the soul-searching depths to this story. Layers upon layers richly woven into a fascinating tapestry of Appalachian life. Back stories that go back generations. The way the sheer stubbornness of feuding clans can morph into something so evilly destructive. And the light the word of God can bring to those who are willing to listen. Colman is the I'm being struck speechless by quite a few books lately and When Silence Sings joins the group. Profoundly captivating. It's really impossible to describe the soul-searching depths to this story. Layers upon layers richly woven into a fascinating tapestry of Appalachian life. Back stories that go back generations. The way the sheer stubbornness of feuding clans can morph into something so evilly destructive. And the light the word of God can bring to those who are willing to listen. Colman is the unsuspecting, very reluctant light bearer. He wants to be a preacher -- but not the staring-down-lions kind. There's a clever retelling of Old Testament Jonah within the pages of this book. And I spotted quite a few scripture parallels among these complex characters. Love the way Colman is more of a storyteller than a fire and brimstone preacher. His insecurities drew me in and he spends a lot of the time not realizing the majesty of his God-given gift. So relatable -- how we assume we're not measuring up to God's expectations. And I love how he learns everything the hard way! Just like me -- by ignoring it, running away or doing it all wrong first time round. :-) Then there's Serepta. A cunning, emotionally guarded clan matriarch. I actually recoiled when I first met her and, truthfully, didn't completely warm up to her even at the end. But I understood her thanks to the literary artistry of Susan Loudin Thomas. Her story is complex and heartbreaking woven together with fragile threads of hope. I'd actually like to meet up with Serepta in a future book to see how she's faring. While When Silence Sings is told from Colman and Serepta's points of view, there are some stand-up-and-take-notice secondary characters that captivated me. Gentle Ivy with her healing gifts, orphaned Emmaline, devoted, long-suffering Charilie and even embittered Webb Harpe. But there's one particularly intriguing character I'd really like to get his own story. Crossing my fingers as I refrain from naming any names. Don't want to even hint at any spoilers. A truly incredible, not-to-be-missed and meant-to-be savoured read! Oh -- and I listened to the audible version of this book. Leah Horowitz did a great job of bringing these characters and their stories to life.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joleen

    Hatfield/McCoy meets Jonah. Great idea! 1930, Thurmond, West Virginia Characters: Colman Harpe: Aspiring preacher Ivy Gordon: Albino healer Serepta McClean: Leader of the feuding McClean clan Mack and Jake McLean: Serepta's sons Hoyt Harpe: Self proclaimed head of feuding Harpe clan What a fascinating story! (Not really a spoiler since much of this is in the book's blurb): Weaving in the theme of the Hatfield/McCoy feud, the author tells a captivating tale of the Harpe and McClean clans (note: H and M) Hatfield/McCoy meets Jonah. Great idea! 1930, Thurmond, West Virginia Characters: Colman Harpe: Aspiring preacher Ivy Gordon: Albino healer Serepta McClean: Leader of the feuding McClean clan Mack and Jake McLean: Serepta's sons Hoyt Harpe: Self proclaimed head of feuding Harpe clan What a fascinating story! (Not really a spoiler since much of this is in the book's blurb): Weaving in the theme of the Hatfield/McCoy feud, the author tells a captivating tale of the Harpe and McClean clans (note: H and M) which escalates exponentially in the first chapter with Jake McClean (Serepta's son) killing Caleb Harpe (Hoyt's son). The hatred and need for vengeance was palpable. Within the Harpe family is a godly man (Coleman) with a message from God to share the gospel with the sworn enemy. Similar to Jonah, he objects and goes off on a fishing trip with cousins, but God has other plans (Jonah-esque, but a bit modernized). This got Coleman's attention. Three days later (wink), ending up on McClean land and needing severe medical attention after God's attention-getting event, Coleman had to stay with some of the McClean family members (Ivy Gordon, an Albino healer and her grandfather). There he had an opportunity to share the Word of God with neighboring clan members through creative story form in brush arbor meetings. (Okay, so native Californian and being new to Tennessee I never knew the meaning of brush arbor until this book.) What followed was a fascinating story of more characters, some good who would like the violence to stop, some very bad who want power and position, with a cute little orphan who pulled heart strings, and a gentle budding romance. I loved Ms. Thomas' inclusion of Appalachian culture. Serepta, who in the 1920s and 30s gained power (after her husband's death) with coal mining and bootlegging, was of Melungeon ancestry. Melungeon people were unknown to me until about 2 years ago as I read two fascinating books books by Lisa Wingate. Storytelling is huge in the Appalachians. I live next to The Storytelling Capital of Tennessee where people from all over the world come to experience the way storytelling is done here. So it was fun to see how Ms. Thomas used this as a way to present biblical messages. I can highly recommend this book to YA and up.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susan Snodgrass

    'I'd rather look for the best. The worst usually makes itself known soon enough.' West Virginia. 1930. Two families, the McLeans and the Harpes, feuding with each other for generations, find things are coming to a head quickly after a McLean guns down a Harpe in cold blood and runs off. Colman Harpe promised his mother he'd not get involved with the feud and so far he's managed to keep his promise. Colman has felt the call to preach and then he hears God call him to preach to his sworn enemy, and 'I'd rather look for the best. The worst usually makes itself known soon enough.' West Virginia. 1930. Two families, the McLeans and the Harpes, feuding with each other for generations, find things are coming to a head quickly after a McLean guns down a Harpe in cold blood and runs off. Colman Harpe promised his mother he'd not get involved with the feud and so far he's managed to keep his promise. Colman has felt the call to preach and then he hears God call him to preach to his sworn enemy, and the head of the clan, in particular. Serepta McKlean is a strong, unbending woman and it's her son who did the killing. Will she listen to the words from God Colman brings? There are many, many secrets that stand to be revealed if she listens. This book was fascinating. Told in Thomas's unique style, in the backwoods and hollers of West Virginia, the reader gets a glimpse of a life that is no longer. Her way with words is special indeed and the cadence of her descriptions is perfect! I was entranced the entire time I was reading. The spiritual element here is good, too: sometimes everything that looks bad is not always bad and God can bring about His work no matter what our eyes see. Highly recommended. Bravo! *My thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a copy of this book via Net Galley. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paula Shreckhise

    Thurmond , Virginia 1930 This book has a loose connection to a family in the book The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear. The Harpe family, many years later than that book, make their appearance in this book. How do you stop a long-standing feud between your kin and the MclLean clan? What do you do when God asks you to preach to the enemy? Colman Harpe is about to stop running as Jonah did, stop fighting God and go right into the lion’s den. Colman didn’t want to be part of the feud and so far has been Thurmond , Virginia 1930 This book has a loose connection to a family in the book The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear. The Harpe family, many years later than that book, make their appearance in this book. How do you stop a long-standing feud between your kin and the MclLean clan? What do you do when God asks you to preach to the enemy? Colman Harpe is about to stop running as Jonah did, stop fighting God and go right into the lion’s den. Colman didn’t want to be part of the feud and so far has been able to stay out of it. Through a freak snowstorm, he becomes lost in a cave inside a mountain. Ivy Gordon finds him as he emerges from the deep, dark bowels of the mountain. She and her grandfather nurse him back to health, right in McLean territory. Ivy is a girl of unusually pale coloring and some ostracize her, but she has a kind spirit. She quips: I’d rather look for the best. The worst usually makes itself known soon enough. This is a many layered story that draws on analogies from the Bible and begs us to look on the heart of a person and not just on his actions. Colman preaches, telling Bible stories by dressing them up in the culture he is part of. But he can be plain spoken when prompted by God. This was a well-written story and opened up a whole part of West Virginia history I’d only glimpsed before. The characters felt real, relatable and able to seek redemption. It would make a first class movie. I will be looking for more from this author. * I won this book in a book club contest. All opinions are my own.*

  7. 5 out of 5

    100 Pages per Hour

    A powerful story about the end of a decades long family feud. Thomas has a knack for writing characters with unique spiritual gifts. Colman's is his hearing. Ivy's is healing. My favorite character in this book though was the adorable orphan child. As always this Thomas book was full of beautiful historical insight. Her research sets her apart from other authors. I really liked the parallels to Jonah in this book. I also really appreciated the overarching theme of forgiveness. It was amazing to see A powerful story about the end of a decades long family feud. Thomas has a knack for writing characters with unique spiritual gifts. Colman's is his hearing. Ivy's is healing. My favorite character in this book though was the adorable orphan child. As always this Thomas book was full of beautiful historical insight. Her research sets her apart from other authors. I really liked the parallels to Jonah in this book. I also really appreciated the overarching theme of forgiveness. It was amazing to see the Lord work through Coleman in this book to reach so many people. I love how gifted he was with preaching even if he didn't think he was. I received an advanced copy of this book from the author. This is my honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Schmidt (Reading is My SuperPower)

    review to follow...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katie Powner

    This was a fantastic book...Sarah Loudin Thomas is the kind of writer I want to be when I grow up.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeanie

    Sometimes God does His best work with unwilling tools. I think He does it to prove it's Him and not us. In the 1930's in the hills of Virginia there were two feuding families - the McLeans and the Harpe's. No one knows for sure what started the feud but it became about power over the other. When a son of the Harpe' clan is killed, Coleman Harpe hears the voice of God. He has that gift of hearing well. But like Jonah, he was not a man of violence but he was not willing to share the gospel to the Sometimes God does His best work with unwilling tools. I think He does it to prove it's Him and not us. In the 1930's in the hills of Virginia there were two feuding families - the McLeans and the Harpe's. No one knows for sure what started the feud but it became about power over the other. When a son of the Harpe' clan is killed, Coleman Harpe hears the voice of God. He has that gift of hearing well. But like Jonah, he was not a man of violence but he was not willing to share the gospel to the McLeans. And instead of a being thrown from a ship as Jonah, Coleman was thrown from a train in a freak storm and ended in dark cave. It is there that he knew God had a special purpose of him and begin to work in his heart. He always wanted to be a preacher but only wanted to share the good news to those that deserved it. God had called him to share the his love and salvation with Serepta McLean. Serepta has always struggled in life. Left alone to raise two boys that are now men, she has never been able to trust any man. The closest she has come to trusting is her "man" Charlie. Secretly, they have affections for each other but the culture does not take to kindly to mixed races. Serepta runs an illegal bootlegging gig and being powerful she has no time to let down her guard until she witnesses the death of a family that leaves a 4 year old girl orphaned. God uses circumstances and people to bring the Harpe's and the McLeans to a climax that is nothing but a hallelujah party. Reading this account, prejudice has no room for the gospel, but there is room at the table for those that are broken. The brokenness always brings beauty when the Gospel is shared. The loudest voice can be the silence of God. Highly recommend this one! A Special Thank you to Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    CoffeeBreakBooks

    "That's the thing about want. It's got nothin' to do with have to." When Silence Sings is a beautifully written, complex, and thoughtful historical set in West Virginia in 1930. This is not a light formula tale of a typical hero and heroine overcoming obstacles and then living happily ever after. Instead, as the stage is gradually set, we are introduced to a number of characters whose importance and impact become known as story layers are eventually and, sometimes, surprisingly peeled away - Colm "That's the thing about want. It's got nothin' to do with have to." When Silence Sings is a beautifully written, complex, and thoughtful historical set in West Virginia in 1930. This is not a light formula tale of a typical hero and heroine overcoming obstacles and then living happily ever after. Instead, as the stage is gradually set, we are introduced to a number of characters whose importance and impact become known as story layers are eventually and, sometimes, surprisingly peeled away - Colman Harpe, Ivy Gordon, Serepta McLean, Jake McLean, Charlie, and Uncle Webb, among others. What might have typically been considered secondary - characters and locations - are equally important in this novel. Without revealing plot elements, I found myself reassessing my thoughts on certain characters and events as the story unfolded, and, even now, I am still reflecting on the truths and lessons learned. An interesting example is found with aspiring preacher Colman Harpe, a multifaceted character trying to bridge the feud, who seemed to struggle with the feeling he was a Bible "storyteller" rather than a classic sermonizer. I also thought the author excelled in her presentation of Serapta McLean - a character who evoked very strong feelings. Sarah Loudin Thomas paints a picture with words - the smells, tastes, and sounds, plus her use of old time metaphors and slang really bring the tale alive to all senses. Compassion, dismay, suspicion, mistrust, and faithfulness are among the wide array of emotions one might experience reading this story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Candice

    I love Sarah’s books because of their authenticity. Her characters are so genuine in their triumphs and their flaws. Her settings feel like home. Her plots are relevant with sound Bible teaching stitched throughout like a handmade quilt you want to wrap up in. When Silence Sings is beautifully written and stays with you long after you turn the last page. I highly recommend this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Outstanding new release from Sarah Loudin Thomas, When Silence Sings continues excelling in her story-telling with another novel set in West Virginia. With her love of her home state, history and the Appalachian heritage, Thomas pens an engrossing story set in Thurmond, West Virginia, a small Appalachian rail town. Coleman Harpe wants to be a preacher, not many are taking him serious. As with many of the menfolk of Thurmond, he works for the C&O rails. His deepest desire is to have his own churc Outstanding new release from Sarah Loudin Thomas, When Silence Sings continues excelling in her story-telling with another novel set in West Virginia. With her love of her home state, history and the Appalachian heritage, Thomas pens an engrossing story set in Thurmond, West Virginia, a small Appalachian rail town. Coleman Harpe wants to be a preacher, not many are taking him serious. As with many of the menfolk of Thurmond, he works for the C&O rails. His deepest desire is to have his own church and congregation. There is a long-standing feud between the Harpe and the McClain families; when a McClain shoots a Harpe in the back, the feud flares and no one dares to step into the others territory nor be seen as supportive of the other side. Except Colman is expected to carry on the feud, hunting down the McClain who shot his cousin in the back. Colman wants peace and refuses to join the search. When Colman hears word from the Lord, to go preach to the McClains, specifically one Serepta McClain, the matriarch, he runs away. Re-appearing in a sick and depleted state, Colman is nursed back to health by Ivy Gordon, a young woman who is well-known as a healer. Unfortunately, Colman’s reappearance is smack dab in the middle of McClain territory; for awhile Ivy is able to keep Colman hidden but eventually word gets out, and when it does, it fans the flames of the feud even hotter. Slowly, Coleman begins sharing stories in his own unique way, stories that encourage love and forgiveness, stories reflecting the Appalachian culture in order to enhance understanding, stories straight from the Bible. Finally Colman is heeding the Lords call to preach to the McClains, but the one he needs to reach, Serepta McClain remains unreachable. She’s not interested in stories, she’s interested in preserving her empire. So, the, how is Colman Harpe to reach her closed heart, and in turn the McCain clan. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and am under no obligation to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions therein are solely my own, and freely given.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    4.5 stars "And then the silence began to sing." Colman Harpe longs to be a pastor of the people, but when he gets caught inextricably in the middle of an ongoing local family feud, he begins to walk a line finer than a piece of thread. On the one hand, his unusual circumstances land him in what many consider to be enemy territory, but on the other hand he might be exactly where God intends for him to be; weak, confused, and at the mercy of those who would love to hate him. Except for Ivy. Serepta 4.5 stars "And then the silence began to sing." Colman Harpe longs to be a pastor of the people, but when he gets caught inextricably in the middle of an ongoing local family feud, he begins to walk a line finer than a piece of thread. On the one hand, his unusual circumstances land him in what many consider to be enemy territory, but on the other hand he might be exactly where God intends for him to be; weak, confused, and at the mercy of those who would love to hate him. Except for Ivy. Serepta McClean is a woman who gets what she wants, and right now that means standing up to her son's disregard for human life, even if he did kill a Harpe. Stirring up old hatreds takes energy that she doesn't want to expend and it's important to Serepta to maintain control over her legal and illegal business ventures through-out the coal mining hills of West Virginia. So when a story telling preacher man from the "other side" catches the attention of "her people", she wonders just what kind of God this man wants her to believe in . . . . . but in reality, Serepta just wants him to go away. What a beautifully written story, with its deep, impressionable characters and rich, convicting spiritual truths. Just how far does the Lord want us to go in order to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us? The author has not only delivered a clever twist on the biblical story of Jonah, but has managed to leave us all wanting to hear the voice of God. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    First sentence: Colman walked along the last car of the coal train, tapping each wheel with his long-handled hammer, listening intently to the clang clang clang. Premise/plot: Colman Harpe desires to be preacher and leave the family feud far far behind. But the family feud isn’t just in the past. The McLeans are still out to get the Harpes. In fact, soon after the novel opens, Jake McLean murders Caleb Harpe, Colman‘s cousin. The Harpes vow vengeance—most of them at least. Serepta McLean’s messag First sentence: Colman walked along the last car of the coal train, tapping each wheel with his long-handled hammer, listening intently to the clang clang clang. Premise/plot: Colman Harpe desires to be preacher and leave the family feud far far behind. But the family feud isn’t just in the past. The McLeans are still out to get the Harpes. In fact, soon after the novel opens, Jake McLean murders Caleb Harpe, Colman‘s cousin. The Harpes vow vengeance—most of them at least. Serepta McLean’s message doesn’t cool things down either. Can Colman manage to stay out of the feud and avoid the drama on both sides? For the Harpes, to take no side in the feud is to be on the McLean’s side. If Colman actually follows his call, he’s risking his very life. God has called him not just to preach—a general call—but to preach to the McLean clan specifically. Will Colman run away like Jonah? Or will he learn to love his enemies with the love of Christ? My thoughts: I really got swept up in the story. I believe it’s set in Tennessee circa 1930/31. At first all I was seeing were the parallels between this story and the book of Jonah—too many to be a mere coincidence. But then the story became so much more than that. The story alternates perspectives between Colman Harpe and Serepta McLean. That was a nice touch. It’s hard to see them as enemies when they’re humanized. I enjoyed every minute of this one.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    As an inspirational read, Sarah Loudin Thomas' When Silence Sings provides an excellent blend of storytelling and faith. While most inspirational writers that I have read, toss in a bible verse or two, Thomas successfully mixes verse, song lyrics and faith to provide a plot full of drama with some comedy. It is difficult to imagine what life would have been like during that time, however, as Thomas takes us into the caverns of ourselves for some deep soul searching. The characters are easy to re As an inspirational read, Sarah Loudin Thomas' When Silence Sings provides an excellent blend of storytelling and faith. While most inspirational writers that I have read, toss in a bible verse or two, Thomas successfully mixes verse, song lyrics and faith to provide a plot full of drama with some comedy. It is difficult to imagine what life would have been like during that time, however, as Thomas takes us into the caverns of ourselves for some deep soul searching. The characters are easy to relate to and little Emmaline is a sheer delight to watch grown as she discovers her own life after her own tragic circumstances. The lives of Colman, Serepta, Ivy, Mack and Jake, along with several others, are aligned with biblical accounts throughout the book with the story addressing the conflict between Colman's message and Serepta's unwavering determination to keep business as usual. I did like Charlie and was hoping for his return near the end; however, his treatment went with the time in which this story took place. One area that I found not to ring true was that I don't believe that Colman who was a railroad worker at the time would have used a word like theology but would have used something like the phrase it's not the time to discuss God. A couple sentences clearly stood out but the one I particularly liked was: Life has a way of teaching you lessons you thought you had already learned (316). Even though Thomas ended this book with a hopeful note, it is possible that the next chapter in Colman's life of service be written into a sequel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Shores

    The "modern day" story of Jonah and the Whale with Issac and Esau as a side story. This is not a story I would have typically read but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author had me hooked from the very beginning and kept me engaged throughout the entire story. Colman Harpe, a preacher hoping to get his own pulpit is tasked with saving the souls of the McLean family, the sworn enemies of the Harpe family. Like Jonah, Colman finds himself in "the belly of a whale (cave)" for three days and then ends The "modern day" story of Jonah and the Whale with Issac and Esau as a side story. This is not a story I would have typically read but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author had me hooked from the very beginning and kept me engaged throughout the entire story. Colman Harpe, a preacher hoping to get his own pulpit is tasked with saving the souls of the McLean family, the sworn enemies of the Harpe family. Like Jonah, Colman finds himself in "the belly of a whale (cave)" for three days and then ends up in the very town that God wanted him to go to in the first place.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julie Stauss

    I love the line 'And then the silence began to sing'. I love the line 'And then the silence began to sing'.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nora St Laurent

    This author whisks readers back in time to the 1930’s West Virginia. She beautifully gives readers the lay of the land through her complex characters and the feud they’ve upheld for years. The author states, “up until now I’ve set my stories in imaginary towns that look a whole lot like the places where I grew up….not this time.” She goes on to tell readers of all that is real and the things she fudged on to make her story work. Early on the author introduces a number of colorful, quirk, believa This author whisks readers back in time to the 1930’s West Virginia. She beautifully gives readers the lay of the land through her complex characters and the feud they’ve upheld for years. The author states, “up until now I’ve set my stories in imaginary towns that look a whole lot like the places where I grew up….not this time.” She goes on to tell readers of all that is real and the things she fudged on to make her story work. Early on the author introduces a number of colorful, quirk, believable characters. I enjoyed their honest search for the truth, their struggle with faith, God and peace. I also liked how this author handled the family feud, many didn’t understand why they were feuding in the first place. Some uphold this feud not seeing the need for change, they didn’t care how it started. But others realized this had to stop. There had to be a change. Many of them were tired of fueling the feud, keeping this hate in their heart. In the end there had to be more to life then fighting. I liked how this was portrayed. Serapta McLean was head of the family business. She’s a cold-hearted, take charge woman. She becomes vulnerable after taking in a little girl who’s lost her whole family. This has Serapta thinking about making big changes. Especially after Colman started banging on her door. Could Colman be the one to help in this change? Could she even think of doing something different? Surrender all to God? I was drawn to the story by Coleman who wrestles with God’s calling. He has to cross the feud line to answer this call. Coleman told stories just like Jesus did, but he felt there had to be more to the preaching. I liked what Coleman Harpe told Hoyt, “I’m just trying to follow God’s call..I’m still not convinced this storytelling business is what He had in mind. If I spend time with folks, I can witness to them proper.”…”Preaching, telling stories, and ministering to the McLeans who came to his meetings wasn’t enough. He needed to strike at the heart of the darkness that had weighed on the region for too long….”It was time to witness to Serepta McLean herself. He’d rarely felt so certain about anything in this life. …If he could win her to faith, surely the rest would follow. If he could lead her to peace, their struggles would come to an end.” The characters grew and changed as the story progressed. Coleman and a few others figure out what’s most important, discover the path God has for them, and finally hear the message that leads to peace, hope and love. I enjoyed the setting; the people and the small-town feel. I liked the sweet romance, along with the mystery, danger, intrigue, and stories of the bible that Coleman shared. I liked how believable characters struggled with the balance of finding their place in the world when they didn’t know they needed to find it. I liked the feel-good ending. This would make a good book club pick at there is much to discuss. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” Nora St. Laurent TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com Book Fun Catalogue front page www.bookfun.org

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Excellent read. Absolutely loved it!!!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I give this book 5 stars!! Well written with a taste of what the Hatfield and McCoy feud might have been like. They too were based out of West Virginia and Kentucky. It truly amazes me what families back then will fight about. Some even take it a little further. There were about 15 well known feuds, the Hatfield and McCoy the most famous. Sarah has crafted a very enjoyable read and I just finished this delightful read. It made my afternoon restful and peaceful. I liked how her storytelling could pa I give this book 5 stars!! Well written with a taste of what the Hatfield and McCoy feud might have been like. They too were based out of West Virginia and Kentucky. It truly amazes me what families back then will fight about. Some even take it a little further. There were about 15 well known feuds, the Hatfield and McCoy the most famous. Sarah has crafted a very enjoyable read and I just finished this delightful read. It made my afternoon restful and peaceful. I liked how her storytelling could paint a picture of what these people might've looked like and been like. Their thoughts, feelings and even the inside of their homes. Heaven help me but I really didn't want to like Serepta the matriarch of the McClean family but as I read on my admiration for her grew. I won't say why because I don't want to spoil the story for you. You come to see why I admired her. I really admired Coleman too bless his heart. I felt for him because God places him in the middle of everything and I was thinking about what if God places me where Coleman is. What would I do? Why is he testing my patience? Is He doing it to see if I will follow Him or the ways of the world. Of course I choose to follow Jesus. I don't like the ways of the world. No one is perfect. We all fall short of the Glory of God. That's why I admired Coleman. He did what God asked him to do even though he didn't want to at times. Just like we don't want to. This book is just so exciting! I strongly recommend this book. I dont really have a favorite character because I enjoyed all of them! Strongly recommend this book! You will be glad you did and will learn a lot!! I can't wait to see what she comes out with next!! I hope I dont have to wait long!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Debrah Nash

    I completed this wonderful book and could't wait to write my review. I was honored to be a part of the Launch Team and to receive a copy of this book as a part of this Team. The first page of When Silence Sings took me back to the 30's and West Virginia where I saw the same personalities of people who were a part of my life when I was a young wife decades ago in Western North Carolina. From the first page the characters of Serepta, Colman and Ivy's rich layers drew me back in time to the 1930's I completed this wonderful book and could't wait to write my review. I was honored to be a part of the Launch Team and to receive a copy of this book as a part of this Team. The first page of When Silence Sings took me back to the 30's and West Virginia where I saw the same personalities of people who were a part of my life when I was a young wife decades ago in Western North Carolina. From the first page the characters of Serepta, Colman and Ivy's rich layers drew me back in time to the 1930's and families who couldn't get along over a long ago instance. The story of the care of love of one character to another and the introduction of a small child begins to bring change to a situation that seems hopeless. The introduction of the old Brush Arbor Meetings brought a desire to once again be a part of such a service to remember the first months of a commitment to change as well. I am never disappointed with Sarah and her story lines and the building of her characters in her other books I have read. This book is the same. As the story builds and the need of obedience and acceptance of someone who is different grows I wanted to cheer. I highly recommend this book that once again has brought the remembrance of who we need to have first always in our life and to help when times are hard. Well done Sarah. I have found some "old friends" once again. Thank you.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robin Willson

    This is an interesting and engaging book, right to the end. Step into an Appalachian feud, just like the Hatfield and McCoys, only it's the Harpe and McLean families. They've been in a feud for many years, some don't even know why. Colman Harpe will go through an experience both like Jonah and the Whale and Joseph when he resists God's call. Lots of bible lessons throughout, all good and well applied. Coleman is a preacher, and as good as he thinks he is, he still finds it hard to tolerate a McL This is an interesting and engaging book, right to the end. Step into an Appalachian feud, just like the Hatfield and McCoys, only it's the Harpe and McLean families. They've been in a feud for many years, some don't even know why. Colman Harpe will go through an experience both like Jonah and the Whale and Joseph when he resists God's call. Lots of bible lessons throughout, all good and well applied. Coleman is a preacher, and as good as he thinks he is, he still finds it hard to tolerate a McLean, especially after one just killed his cousin. But he's called to bring the McClean clan to God. Serepta is the head of her clan, and she's tough as nails. There's bootlegging, theft, kidnapping beatings and murders in this story. Just about everything you can think of. It's so well written you can't help but wish salvation and the best for each of them. In fact the characters are so real I caught myself starting to tell my husband something about a character one day (!) I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. #WhenSilenceSings #NetGalley

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    Beautiful words that warm your heart and make you fall in love with these wonderful characters. You will feel empathy for Serepta , sympathy for Coleman, and love Ivy. This story will weave around your heart and pull you into the hills of WV, where clans feud and traditions are followed. Ms. Thomas has hit the nail on the head with this one with her impeccable research and insight into these peoples. Having family from the areas she writes about I can say she paints a word picture that is accura Beautiful words that warm your heart and make you fall in love with these wonderful characters. You will feel empathy for Serepta , sympathy for Coleman, and love Ivy. This story will weave around your heart and pull you into the hills of WV, where clans feud and traditions are followed. Ms. Thomas has hit the nail on the head with this one with her impeccable research and insight into these peoples. Having family from the areas she writes about I can say she paints a word picture that is accurate in her descriptive prose. The hope and inspiring storyline will draw you in from page one and keep you engrossed until the end. Recommended reading for your must buy list. I received a complimentary copy from the author/publisher. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Connie Saunders

    I am so in love with this book and it is now a part of my favorite book list. Sarah Loudin Thomas has completely captured the culture of Appalachia and much of what she mentions is native to my area of Kentucky. Blackberry Winter; the odor and taste of milk when cows have eaten in a pasture field filled with spring onions; a meal with cornbread and greens, followed by spreading apple butter on that cornbread for dessert. So familiar to many of us but so foreign to those who have grown up elsewhe I am so in love with this book and it is now a part of my favorite book list. Sarah Loudin Thomas has completely captured the culture of Appalachia and much of what she mentions is native to my area of Kentucky. Blackberry Winter; the odor and taste of milk when cows have eaten in a pasture field filled with spring onions; a meal with cornbread and greens, followed by spreading apple butter on that cornbread for dessert. So familiar to many of us but so foreign to those who have grown up elsewhere. I also love the deadly family feud depicted between the Harpe and the McLean families because I have grown up with the legendary feud between the Kentucky Hatfields and the West Virginia McCoys. What is most appealing to me, however, is Colman Harpe's desire to become a preacher but wanting to do it on his own terms. How could God expect him to preach to the people who have been enemies of his family for generations, especially Serepta McLean, the meanest and most powerful woman around their area of West Virginia? But that is what God wants him to do and Colman's reluctance parallels the biblical Jonah's efforts to avoid going to Ninevah. When he finally realizes that he MUST heed God's call, his first chance to minister is with a group of McLean women that he encounters as they mend their clothing while sitting under a circle of dogwood trees. At a loss of what to say, Colman tells them about the legend of the dogwood tree and its role in Jesus Christ's crucifixion. As they sit mesmerized by his story, he realizes that the best way to reach the McLean family might not be through traditonal preaching. Maybe, Colman thought, he could use stories and illustrations to share God's message. After all, isn't that what Jesus did through his parables? Thomas has created so many fascinating characters. Colman Harpe; Ivy Gordon,the young woman who is feared because of her lack of skin pigmentation but gifted with amazing medical skills; Charlie, Serepta McLean's black houseman who understands her like no one else; and Emmaline, the little girl who changes the lives of so many people. It is, however, Serepta who stole my heart. No, she isn't a good person or a model citizen but she is the person that I would like to see in another story. I believe that her ability to serve God could be as powerful as her ability to bootleg illegal liquor and run an empire! There is a suggested romantic connection between Colman and Ivy but When Silence Sings isn't your usual love story. It is instead a tale filled with the many different emotions that influence our lives and God's amazing ability to turn hatred and pride into acceptance and understanding. Sarah Loudin Thomas has created a wonderful story and I recommend When Silence Sings to all who enjoy Christian fiction and family drama. I received a copy of this book from the author and Bethany House but a positive review was not required. These are my honest opinions.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis

    An incredible story! Have you ever looked at pictures from the Great Depression era? You know that feeling, that sense of melancholy you get? Almost a stillness, a solemn view of life, and a sense of resignation with just a tinge of hope. Sarah Loudin Thomas takes these same emotions and turns them into prose in a poignant manner in When Silence Sings. This amazing story pulled me right into the mountains of West Virginia amid a feud that started a century earlier. Where folks lived in conditions An incredible story! Have you ever looked at pictures from the Great Depression era? You know that feeling, that sense of melancholy you get? Almost a stillness, a solemn view of life, and a sense of resignation with just a tinge of hope. Sarah Loudin Thomas takes these same emotions and turns them into prose in a poignant manner in When Silence Sings. This amazing story pulled me right into the mountains of West Virginia amid a feud that started a century earlier. Where folks lived in conditions we would be appalled at and yet thought nothing of it. Where poverty was so much a part of life it wasn’t even a thing. The speech of the characters and the narration were rich with the idiosyncrasies and colorful flavor of Appalachian families without feeling overdone. The conflict between the McLeans and the Harpes was so ingrained into the fabric of the characters, even Colman, who desired to be a preacher and knew the Word of God well, didn’t find it strange or wrong for the feud to exist. He despised and feared the McLeans. In fact, I was set to not like him much when I first observed his thoughts and actions. Then I realized that this was a retelling of the story of Jonah. All of a sudden, my entire perspective changed and I saw how masterfully the author communicated the type of reluctance Jonah would have felt when told to go preach to the sworn enemy of his people! Perhaps it is my love of stories; nevertheless, I was captivated by the way Colman preached. Not by creating deep treatises on theological teachings but through the simple stories of the Bible, made more relevant and real to his audience. In a community where education was rare, there wasn’t a much better way to reach their hearts! I was intrigued by the way the issues of prejudice were brought into the story. Not only was there the prejudice of the families towards each other and prejudice against a man of African-American descent, one of the characters lacked pigmentation in her skin and was feared by the people for that. While there is a hint of romance, this is not a romantic story. It deals with deep heart matters such as hatred, unforgiveness, and pride. And shows the power of God to transform hearts and minds. The ending is satisfying but does not neatly wrap up all the loose ends, much like real life. This is my first full-length novel by Sarah Loudin Thomas and I hope it is not the last! She is now on the list of authors I really enjoy! Read my full review at Among the Reads I was given a copy of this book. I was not required to give a favorable review nor was any money received for this review. All comments and opinions are my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    The Harpes and the McLeans have been feuding for generations, so it's no surprise to Colman Harpe that when his cousin is killed by a McLean, the Harpes want vengeance. Colman, an aspiring preacher, tries to remind himself that vengeance is the Lord's and stay out of things, but then he receives an unexpected call from the Lord--to preach to the McLeans. Not sure how to carry out that call, and even sure he wants to, he heads out on a fishing trip instead, only to be stranded in a storm and lost The Harpes and the McLeans have been feuding for generations, so it's no surprise to Colman Harpe that when his cousin is killed by a McLean, the Harpes want vengeance. Colman, an aspiring preacher, tries to remind himself that vengeance is the Lord's and stay out of things, but then he receives an unexpected call from the Lord--to preach to the McLeans. Not sure how to carry out that call, and even sure he wants to, he heads out on a fishing trip instead, only to be stranded in a storm and lost in mountain caves until he emerges in the McLeans' territory, cared for by Ivy, an outsider who encourages him to answer his call to preach to the McLeans. Serepta McLean, the matriarch of the McLean clan, has worked too hard to gain control of and prosper the family businesses to let anything get in her way. Neither of her two sons quite seems up to scratch to be the next leader of their empire--the elder is too sloppy and the younger too eager to make changes Serepta doesn't approve of. While she needs to tend to business and bringing at least one of her sons up to scratch, when a terrible accident leaves a young girl orphaned, Serepta impulsively takes her in and soon finds that the little girl changes her life way more than she anticipated. Wow! This book was incredibly well written. I don't know anything about West Virginia in 1930, and yet, Sarah Loudin Thomas brought it to life in such a way that it felt totally familiar to me. I was quickly immersed in the setting as well as the plot. From the get-go, Colman, with his Jonah-like story, just tugged at my heart; I think a lot of readers can relate to feeling like there's something God wants us to do but don't have any idea how to actually do it. I thought that was totally relatable, as was how he felt caught between his family and his own desires for life. Ivy and her uncle, who care for him, were totally endearing as well. As for Serepta, she was a fascinating character, one who does things that are definitely questionable but who also does good things. She, along with other characters, definitely make for an interesting discussion topic, like what makes someone good or evil, if anyone is past redemption, etc. There's just so much to like about this book--and there's tons to talk about, which makes it a great choice for book clubs. Highly recommend--I'm picking this as one of the best books of 2019! I read an ARC provided by the publisher via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    The feud between the Harpes and the McLeans has been going on for as long as most can remember. The trouble is not many agree on the reason for the feud. Colman Harpe's mother insisted her family have nothing to do with the feud. So Colman usually felt on the outskirts of his extended family. After his mother died he took up preaching. He figured a preacher was supposed to "turn the other cheek" and not get involved in feuds. He also got a job with the railroad, which keeps him busy most days. He The feud between the Harpes and the McLeans has been going on for as long as most can remember. The trouble is not many agree on the reason for the feud. Colman Harpe's mother insisted her family have nothing to do with the feud. So Colman usually felt on the outskirts of his extended family. After his mother died he took up preaching. He figured a preacher was supposed to "turn the other cheek" and not get involved in feuds. He also got a job with the railroad, which keeps him busy most days. He checks on his dad once a week and keeps to himself. Serepta McLean has been leader of the McLean clan since her husband passed away. She has been grooming her oldest son to take over leadership. Jake doesn't always make the best choices and isn't real motivated to do work of any kind. Her younger son is eager to use his business education to help run the family businesses, but he wants to change the way things are done. Serepta insists that the oldest son must be the one to take over leadership. When Colman's cousin is shot by Jake McLean over a game of cards, the Harpe clan want to take revenge. Colman's uncle doesn't appreciate Colman's lack of involvement. Serepta is frustrated that her son would do such a thing. There is a tent meeting taking place near Harpe territory and Serepta decides to make an appearance to show the Harpe clan she is not going to hide from them. As Colman watches Serepta sitting in front of the preacher he feels convicted to tell the McLeans about Jesus. He is not sure whether it scares him more to obey that conviction or ignore it. This is a beautiful story, beautifully written. It tells of God's mercy and the power of his love. How hearts can be changed and turned to Him. There is a Jonah element as Colman initially ignores his conviction and I loved the way this was worked out in the setting. Speaking of the setting, I have never been to West Virginia, so I enjoyed getting a taste of it. I liked all of the characters, but I think my favorite were Johnny and Elam, Colman's cousins. Their conversations always made me laugh. I was sorry to see this one end. I would love to see how Colman and Ivy's story plays out as well as Serepta and Emmaline's stories.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joann Marks

    A love story at its purest, but not what you're thinking. In 1930 Thurmond and Hinton, West Virginia life was vastly different than it is today. Family feuds and the struggles for power seemed a way of life. People from one side, the Harpe family, hated people form the other side, the McClean family, and vice versa. Most didn’t even know why, but all were caught up in the fight. When a McLean shoots dead a Harpe it just adds fuel to an already unpredictable fire. Amid this hate and animosity, we s A love story at its purest, but not what you're thinking. In 1930 Thurmond and Hinton, West Virginia life was vastly different than it is today. Family feuds and the struggles for power seemed a way of life. People from one side, the Harpe family, hated people form the other side, the McClean family, and vice versa. Most didn’t even know why, but all were caught up in the fight. When a McLean shoots dead a Harpe it just adds fuel to an already unpredictable fire. Amid this hate and animosity, we see the heart of Colman Harpe, who knows God has called him to preach and wants nothing to do with the ongoing squabbles, but still feels a great loyalty to his family. When he realizes God expects him to go and preach to the enemy…the McClean clan… he isn’t sure it’s possible. We also see the heart (or seemingly lack thereof) of Serepta McClean who has little concern for anything other than herself and her empire, the legal and illegal. As things seem to be slipping through her hands, “She wished the God who surely hated her would strike her down and be done with it”. This is when this purest, truest love story begins. The truest love, the best love in this tremendous story, is seen in the love one man has for others. The love Colman has, overcomes his hate and his fear as he speaks of God to people who hate him. More importantly, we see the love of God who never gives up on us no matter how dark our heart seems. This book was not what I expected. I like a good love story; this is an exceptional love story in so many ways. Sarah Loudin Thomas does not disappoint in the telling of this tale. Her way with words puts you right there with those wonderful folks, in 1930 West Virginia. You enjoy each character “good” or “bad” and end up with great affection for all for them. A few times I wanted to put the book down, but only because the “happily ever after” seemed to be slipping away. I would highly recommend this book (all of Thomas’s books) Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a copy of this book via Netgalley. The opinions are all my own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Hodgkins

    “Colman walked along the last car of the coal train, tapping each wheel with his long-handled hammer, listening intently to the clang clang clang. He cocked his head to the left and closed his right eye so he could hear better. The tone was just about perfect. Good—no cracks.” -Opening lines of When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas Sarah Loudin Thomas’ When Silence Sings is a novel which is hard to fit into a category. It is set in 1930 in West Virginia with two families stuck in a feud. At t “Colman walked along the last car of the coal train, tapping each wheel with his long-handled hammer, listening intently to the clang clang clang. He cocked his head to the left and closed his right eye so he could hear better. The tone was just about perfect. Good—no cracks.” -Opening lines of When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas Sarah Loudin Thomas’ When Silence Sings is a novel which is hard to fit into a category. It is set in 1930 in West Virginia with two families stuck in a feud. At the opening, another murder has occurred. The death is that of Colman’s cousin and it prompts him to reconsider the origins and point of the feud. He feels prompted by God to preach to his family’s enemy, Serepta. He tries to avoid the calling but life circumstances lands him in the midst of Serepta’s territory. Serepta is a fascinating character with a past that has traumatised her and her business is experiencing problems. The person she most trusts is a black man, Charlie, making their relationship dangerous and they have to keep it hidden. To these two, a third character, Ivy, is added. She has been an outcast for most of her life and yet is full of positivity and hope. She helps doctor those who cross her path and, when she finds Colman in need, helps his recovery. Her home and care become the crossroads for the story as she connects Colman and Serepta. The storyline is a study in forgiveness. In working through the fallout of the feud, Sarah explores empathizing with “the enemy”. She examines the place of vengeance for those who believe in Christ and she highlights the power of love and hope. There is mystery, romance and drama throughout the novel but it appears in surprising ways. Full of rich descriptions and insightful phrases, this is one to chew over rather than rush through. There are several scenes of racial abuse and violence which I found distressing in an otherwise interesting story, so be forewarned. It’s a four out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale.

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