I enjoyed and was captivated and intrigued by “This is How it Begins ” by Joan Dempsey. The genres for this Novel are Historical Fiction and Fiction. Kudos to Joan Dempsey for weaving different layers into this story. There are two separate storylines. According to the blurb,” Compulsively readable, This Is How It Begins is a timely novel about free speech, the importance of empathy, and the bitter consequences of long kept secrets.”
The author describes the characters of the story as complicated and complex. This is possibly due to the political agenda and climate in this story. The year is 2009, and a main character , Ludka Zeilonka, an 85 year old art professor gets involved in the political upset when her grandson Tommy, a gay teacher is fired. Both Ludka’s husband and son have been active in politics, and Tommy is supported by his father’s liberal support of gay rights, and also is against firing for any kind of discrimination. Tommy is only on of several gay teachers fired.
There is a Christian Right wing group that is saying it believes that Tommy has been depriving Christian believing children from learning. Radio-host Warren Meck has political aspirations and believes that his Catholic children are being deprived of the proper learning in school. Unfortunately there are riots and violence, and Warren Mack prefers using words.
Ludka has the sickening feeling of remembering during World War Two when the Nazis were oppressive. This reminds her of that. Only then Ludka had many dark secrets. One was that she rescued children before the Nazis got to them. Also Ludka had a part in trying to save the Polish Jewish people’s art that was being taken by the Nazis.
As Ludka thinks about what is happening to her grandson, someone from her past threatens her.
I appreciate that the author brings up topics such as discrimination, , gay rights, minority rights, bias, bullying, violence, betrayal, and secrets and how harmful they are. The author also discusses honesty, communicating, compromising, empathy, love, hope, family friends and community.
I would highly recommend this novel to those who appreciate Historical Fiction. I received an Advanced Reading Copy for my honest review.