Reading This Heavy Silence by Nicole Mazzarella was like participating in a poignant dream that I didn’t want to end, though when I finished, I couldn’t imagine a better ending. I felt satisfied when I put the book down, but sad too.
Mazzarella won the Christy last year for first novel. She deserves it. Like Catherine Marshall (whose amazing prose inspired the the Christy Award), Mazzarella made me love a difficult character. Dottie Connell is a farmwoman living with secrets, regrets, and a driving work ethic that keeps her from examining her pain and grief.
I cheered for Dottie. Got exasperated by her. Wanted to shake her, then hug her. And through my connection with Dottie, I cherished Mazzarella’s spare, beautiful prose. Here’s a taste to whet your literary appetite:
“The creek showed signs of spring. Ice thawed with a warmth perceptible only to those who farmed the valley. Sluggish water rose between blocks of ice though snow continued to fall. Winter, like grieving, was a succession of false endings” (p. 57).
I’m humbled, truly, to be nominated this year if this was last year’s winner. Mazzarella is a fine novelist who weaves redemption into story in a natural, unforced way. If you’d like a great summer read, pick this book up.