Critical Reviews

"Stubborn, independent Dottie Connell's greatest desire is to own the 300 acres of farmland that her family has worked all her life. Then childhood friend Zela Brubaker dies unexpectedly, naming Dottie as the guardian of her young daughter, Mattie. Although Dottie is not sure she wants to raise the girl, she finally has her chance to purchase her beloved land, but the cost requires Mattie's total inheritance, which is more than the property will ever be worth. First novelist Mazzarella creates a memorable protagonist who thwarts every chance at love by demanding those around her to join in her all-consuming devotion to the land. She knows the life she has chosen, and she also knows the terrible price she will pay for it. A finalist for the Paraclete Press Fiction Award of 2004, this is highly recommended for all collections. Mazzarella teaches creative writing at Wheaton College in Illinois."
- Library Journal

"Simply put, This Heavy Silence is a great read…this is a complex and layered novel about the choices we make and the relationships we build. ”
- Chicago Sun-Times (Complete Review)

“Mazzarella treats her protagonist as an individual of consequence. She treats her with respect.”
- Ohioana Quarterly
(complete review)

2006 Christy First Novel Award

christy

Publisher's Weekly on the Christy Award

Christianity Today's Fiction Book of 2006
"Nuanced characterization, finely wrought scene-setting, subtlety in addressing questions of faith, repentance, and forgiveness. Mazzarella appreciates the ways that decent, hardworking, righteous people can be tempted to go astray. Her characters are developed masterfully, and her prose style is both beautiful and precise.ottie Connell's obsession to own the farmland her family has worked for her whole life forces her to make moral choices that will affect both herself and her ward, the child of her deceased best friend. This finalist in the Paraclete Press fiction contest is an understated literary gem." - Christianity Today

Named one of the Best Books of 2005 by Library Journal
"Dottie Connell's obsession to own the farmland her family has worked for her whole life forces her to make moral choices that will affect both herself and her ward, the child of her deceased best friend. This finalist in the Paraclete Press fiction contest is an understated literary gem."
- Library Journal

 

"With grace, wisdom, an exacting moral imagination, and a sense of well-loved place that is all too rarely met, Mazzarella's beautiful novel explores the fertile ground of inner growth, the difference between what it means to age and what it means to ripen. An unforgettable book by a writer to watch."
- Janet Peery, author of Alligator Dance and The River Beyond the World, a l996 Finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction

"Nicole Mazzarella's This Heavy Silence tells the story of Dottie Connell, a tough (but not so tough) farmer who fights for everything she gets, including her own hard-won wisdom. This is a novel about family and history, about loneliness and love, about seasons of growth. Ambitious and bittersweet."
- Sheri Reynolds, author of Rapture of Canaan (Oprah Book Club)

"Independent, self-sufficient, tenacious--Dottie Connell, the heroine of Nicole Mazzarella's moving new novel, values her plain farmwoman's strengths. Those strengths have aided her in the long battle to keep her father's farm. But when she is given custody of her best friend's little girl, she is forced to recognize her limits. Inch by painful inch, Dottie reconsiders her life's choices, and maps afresh the boundaries of the human heart. This Heavy Silence is a fiercely beautiful meditation on will, desire and love's limitations. The work of an artist of deep commitment, it will linger long in readers' memories."
- Erin McGraw, author of The Good Life

"Like the land she inhabits and the people she attends, Nicole Mazzarella offers a subtle and enduring beauty, born of intense interiority, and vision both broad and deep."
- Scott Cairns, author of Philokalia: New & Selected Poems