When their lives take surprising turns, seven individuals stumble onto a connection with a surprising and powerful force. These connections take place in settings as diverse as the characters that encounter them: an overpass, a Baptist tent revival, a camping trip, a Latin Catholic mass, a bus stop. What they have in common is a realization that their small worlds have been broken open, and new light is coming in. Miguel loses his fight with alcoholism, keeping him distanced from his beloved girlfriend and daughter. Isaac enters college hoping to end his lifelong isolation, only to find that new choices can threaten everything he left at home. Tasia is torn from her comfortable home as drug lords threaten her life, forcing her to flee to a strange country where she doesn't understand the language or culture. Ellie's mother dies and her father abandons her, and the child wanders dangerous city streets in search of an angel. Peter marries a beautiful and brilliant woman, but can't bring himself to connect with her, held back by constant weariness. Margot, plagued with threatening voices and swirling fears, finds herself homeless at the start of a bitter winter. Alice left her job as a corporate executive to have a family, and w chafes at the confines of her mommy-life. In their search for something greater, whether a purpose for living or just a warm place to sleep, these characters help each other encounter something that breathes on the other side of silence. Review by Kyle Guante Tran Myhre (2-time National Poetry Slam champion): The Other Side of Silence explores faith, but doesn't sugarcoat or mythologize it; instead, it's a story about regular people coming into contact with something transcendent, a story about the God that exists inside every moment of clarity, embrace with a loved one or decision to keep fighting. The vel is heart-warmingly optimistic, but it also pulls punches; while humanity's goodness is on display here, that goodness is shining through a brutal, dark-and-dirty realism. Characters deal with racism, poverty, homophobia and oppressions of all kinds, and the sometimes suffocating bleakness only makes the vel's various spiritual and emotional payoffs all the more satisfying. To top it all off, it's written with supreme confidence and remarkable lyrical skill; this is an impressive, powerful debut vel.
Lauren Martinez Catlin is an author and poet who is committed to inspiring compassion through the written word. Her work has enhanced the efforts of A Minnesota Without Poverty, Breaking Free, Source Ministries, Justice4All, and A Beautiful Rescue. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2008 with a degree in English Literature. The Other Side of Silence is her first novel. She currently lives in Minneapolis with a very cute husband and a German shepherd.