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Night Bird Calling

By Cathy Gohlke


From award-winning author Cathy Gohlke, whose novels have been called “haunting” (Library Journal on Saving Amelie) and “page-turning” (Francine Rivers on Secrets She Kept), comes a historical fiction story of courage and transformation set in rural Appalachia on the eve of WWII.
When Lilliana Swope’s beloved mother dies, Lilliana gathers her last ounce of courage and flees her abusive husband for the home of her only living relative in the foothills of No Creek, North Carolina. Though Hyacinth Belvidere hasn’t seen Lilliana since she was five, she offers her cherished great-niece a safe harbor. Their joyful reunion inspires plans to revive Aunt Hyacinth’s estate and open a public library where everyone is welcome, no matter the color of their skin.

Slowly Lilliana finds revival and friendship in No Creek―with precocious eleven-year-old Celia Percy, with kindhearted Reverend Jesse Willard, and with Ruby Lynne Wishon, a young woman whose secrets could destroy both them and the town. When the plans for the library also incite the wrath of the Klan, the dangers of Lilliana’s past and present threaten to topple her before she’s learned to stand.
With war brewing for the nation and for her newfound community, Lilliana must overcome a hard truth voiced by her young friend Celia: Wishing comes easy. Change don’t.

Book Takeaway:

I hope, as you read Night Bird Calling, that you will consider those around you—family, friends, colleagues, students, even strangers. If you or someone you know is or was intimidated or abused in any way, please reach out to them and let them know that abuse, oppression, attitudes of control and/or lording over a person or over a congregation does not come from God, does not come from the lover and Creator of life. Lovingly point those abused and those who abuse to our Savior, who forgives the repentant, who loves and heals each of us, cruelly broken though we may be. All we have to do is ask Him. Know that He holds accountable those who abuse authority and power, whether in relationships of marriage, family, community, or the church. Know that your pain—the pain of the person abused—is not forgotten, and that abuse is not the fault of the person who is/was abused.
Show others that you love them—love them with the perfect, healing, unrestrained love of Christ.
Scripture tells us that we are so dearly loved and delighted in that we are rejoiced over with singing. With great loving kindness has our Father drawn us. He never means us harm, but offers each of us hope and a future.

Why the author wrote this book:

Questions of faith, concern for the oppressed, and stands against injustice claim the heart of my books. Exposing and fighting domestic abuse and race violence have long been passions of mine. Readers may know that from the books I’ve written, might have guessed it based on my upbringing in the South through years of the civil rights movement. Jim Crow, following the failings of Reconstruction cut short, created a rough and ragged world of its own. Those remnants and attitudes sadly, tragically, have not altogether disappeared. We’ve come far, but there is still much work and healing to do and it can only be done when we reach out to others in compassion, and in respect and appreciation for our neighbors.
What might not be so clear, because of my great love and respect for the church and the faithful of God, is that I’m also passionate about exposing the dangers of church leadership abuse and bringing healing to its victims. As Christians, we don’t want to think such abuse exists. We hate the very idea. We want to believe that shepherds of our flocks are trustworthy, blameless as far as humanly possible, and embody the list of qualifications for elders and deacons found in 1 Timothy 3. But where there is power there is temptation to abuse that power, and reports in our daily news make it clear that in some places, in some churches, terrible abuse exists.
The horror of abuse—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual—reeks not only in those churches reported in the national and global news, but in churches, priesthoods, elderships, and pastorates not yet exposed. Dirty secrets are known to hide within the confines of cults, but they can also be hidden within the walls of legitimate churches. It is for the victims of abuse—those who’ve known intimidation, indoctrination, and physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma—that my heart bleeds. It is especially for them and for all who are willing to help in the understanding and healing process that Night Bird Calling is written and prayed over.


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