"If this doesn't become a New York Times bestseller, I'll never understand why. This is one of the best novels I've read in the past five years—it will stay with me."

Cathy Kodra, Reader from Knoxville, TN

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THIS IS HOW IT BEGINS, A NOVEL

What Readers Are Saying

David Brightman, Ohio, says "I just finished the book last night—it is BRILLIANT. I love it. 'Well Done,' as the Brits would say ... I am not usually a fan of the intertwined then-and-now stories approach, but the author pulled it off so well I am completely won over. Brava!!!!!!"

Debi Dixon of Greenwood, IN, says, "Nothing quite like a lazy summer day and a carry-you-away novel. Loving this one!"

Barry Jandebeur, Bartlett, NH, says, "The language pops, the story is fluid and the characters are immediately real and familiar. Carry this book to your favorite reading spot. You'll be glad you did."

Jan Draper, Annaheim, CA says, "Thought provoking story and interesting, real characters you want more of."

Cathy Kodra of Knoxville, TN says "I can only say 'Wow!' and I mean it with my whole heart. You did an amazing job with this literary, page-turning novel. I've given it five stars on Goodreads. I found the story arc to be fascinating and solidly constructed, the characters unique, believable, and well developed, and the ending a satisfying and unpredictable surprise. And the research that went into it!

"If this doesn't become a NYT Bestseller, I'll never understand why. This is one of the best novels I've read in the past five years, and one that I feel will stay with me."

Candace Thompson, Pleasanton, TX, says, "Joan ... is a literary master with words, plot, and characterization."

Mary Whiteside of Plano, Texas, says this is a "wonderful and courageous book."

Pat Reilly of Arlington, MA says, "I almost missed my train stop here  because I was so engrossed in this book. I love it! Beautiful writing and it grabbed me immediately....plus love all the Boston and Massachusetts State House references. Bravo!" [Jesse seems to have claimed the book now!]


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On Thursday night I read up to Part III, turned out the light and couldn’t close my eyes. So back up, light on, reading until I finished at 2 am. Start to finish I was captivated by the timeliness of the subject and the way Joan found good and evil in all of the opposing sides.

This book sharply brings into focus how the most heinous atrocities begin in the smallest way—words misunderstood; deeds done in the name of faith and/or justice; like-minded people turning away from anyone who doesn’t profess the same religion, philosophy, skin color, sexual preference, political views—the list is endless.

The book is terrific. I couldn’t put it down. This will be on the NYT bestsellers list.

— Donna Armer, Reader


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Diana Rigor says "… undeniably binge-worthy. I'm loving this book. Joan has hit it out of the park."

Volanda Harrison, Detroit, MI, says, "I am loving the book! I turn page after page until I can't stop myself from drifting off. This is how it is when I wake up!"

Joan Gillman, while in sunny California at a beach wedding on Dana Point, says she "won't put down this great read." And back home in New York City, she says, "I am having a hard time finding time to do the laundry and wash the kitchen floor as I keep curling up in a chair to read another chapter!"

Susan Grillo from Deerfield Beach, FL, says, "I couldn't wait to finish this book once I began reading. It was a fast read. The characters sprang to life. The flashbacks to World War II and back to the present day were seamless. It is a book that needs to be read to remind us that there are still prejudices and inequities against the gay community. I highly recommend this book. Hope it's a bestseller!"

Dianne Terry says, "Enjoying this book. The story is right on the mark for the intolerance in today's society."

Ginny Rachel of Princeton, WV, says, "This book is exceptional."

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