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Ludka Zeilonka is an 85-year-old art professor and member of an esteemed political family in Massachusetts.

One day, she receives a disturbing phone message about a secret she has kept for more than sixty years. Shortly thereafter, her grandson, Tommy, is fired along with a handful of other gay teachers across the state for allegedly discriminating against Christian students in the classroom.

The teacher firings are the brainchild of Warren Meck, a deeply religious local radio host and father of three who is hoping to pass a religious freedom bill in Massachusetts. Meck favors achieving his goals through careful planning and legislation, and is concerned when violence erupts. But concern quickly turns to alarm when he realizes the violence may be being incited by those within his inner circle.

As a young Catholic woman in WWII Poland, Ludka joined the Resistance as an artist, her surviving drawings serving as testimony to Nazi crimes. Also, her family sheltered Jews, and her parents died because of it. As Ludka witnesses Tommy navigating the political firestorm that erupts over his job loss, she knows that what she sees doesn’t compare to her childhood. But she also recognizes the danger in dehumanizing a group of people. As the tensions escalate, she’s forced to decide once again to keep quiet or to act.

In this novel about free speech, family and secrets, Dempsey brilliantly depicts both sides without creating caricatures, emphasizing the importance of empathy in public discourse today. THIS IS HOW IT BEGINS is page-turning, thought provoking, and timely.

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WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

“Dempsey has taken two stories that could have been ripped from today’s headlines and woven them into one fascinating, can’t-put-it-down book.” —Edwina C

“I absolutely loved this book! I literally couldn't put it down. At the same time, I didn't want it to end.” —Karen D

“This book was hard to put down. On the day I received it, I read up to Part III, turned out the light but couldn’t close my eyes. So back up, light on, reading until I finished at 2 am.” —Donna

“… once I sat down, I stayed up most of the night to finished it!” —Volanda

“I sped through [the novel] within two days of receiving [it]!” —Dawn S

“… [the novel] drew me in and then I couldn't put it down. The only problem for me was the book ended! I wanted these people in my life. I need to know what they are doing now.” —Annette

“Eerily relevant to current events—as if Joan stayed up all night writing it this week!” —Janet C

“… engaging and thought provoking, a 'can't put it down' read.” —Willow

“From the very beginning [Dempsey] had me hooked. The book was hard to put down when life intruded.” —Joan G

“From the beginning of this book, I was captivated …” —Coreen J

“The characters draw you in, and the story is intriguing, moving, and intense. Could not put it down, had to know what would happen next.” —David B

“Dempsey crafts a must-read with her debut novel … a binge-worthy read.” —Amazon Customer

“A page-turner literary novel … worthy of becoming a New York Times bestseller. One of my top favorites, new and old.” —Cathy K

“No spoilers but there’s an unexpected moment towards the end that gave me goosebumps and made me want to sing … a must-read.” —Eric M

“…a riveting read … will surely set a new standard in political fiction.” —Debbie H

“A novel that grabs you, gathers you in and engulfs you in the story.” —Barry J

“I see a future bestseller and movie! I read my advance copy ... Twice!” —Candace T

“Well-researched and exquisitely written … an exciting page-turner.” —Mary W

“… a writer worth watching … a novel worth reading.” —B. Lynne G

“So well written, so gut wrenching, a must-read.” —Rhonda L

“… takes your breath away with its relevance to present day issues and our world’s historical heritage … a beautiful creation.” —Sarah S

“I highly recommend this book for the reader who is looking for rich story content and character depth and suspense that feels ripped from the headline news.” —Mary C

“[This] is not my normal type of book choice, so I didn't expect to like it. But, WOW, [Dempsey] pulls you in with a story straight out of today's headlines.” —Diane T

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