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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Father's Love
I first met David Sheehan in the late 90's. I was working for an automation
company building equipment for HP. It's hard to be just a business
acquaintance with David and much easier to be a friend. We worked together
off and on until I left the company in March 2004.

An associate and I traveled to Corvallis OR sometime in early 2005
to...
Published on March 19, 2012 by DonJuan

versus
11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unbalanced book
I have been reluctant to write a review because of my strong negative reaction to this book - and because I am familiar w/ the author as a person. With each page, I became more and more agitated and uneasy. The author is using the death of Karly to vent her own feelings and work thru her own traumatic past. In so doing, she is unable to be objective and convey an honest...
Published 20 months ago by Amazon Customer


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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Father's Love, March 19, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder (Hardcover)
I first met David Sheehan in the late 90's. I was working for an automation
company building equipment for HP. It's hard to be just a business
acquaintance with David and much easier to be a friend. We worked together
off and on until I left the company in March 2004.

An associate and I traveled to Corvallis OR sometime in early 2005
to meet with an automation company for a potential project. We planned
to meet David in Corvallis prior to the meeting.

We met David for breakfast and he brought Karly along. In times past I had
seen the light in David's eyes when he talked about Karly, completely
understandable after meeting her. But that morning he had a worried look as
he explained the issues he had been going through with Sarah and the emotional
well being of Karly. He was very distraught about her hair falling out and seemed
to be at his wits' end. I was shocked upon receiving news of Karly's death.
Anyone having been around David for a short period of time would never question
his love and devotion to Karly. After completing the book, I look back at that
meeting with much sorrow in my heart. It hurts to think of what Karly and
David had to endure. They both were, and are, so very brave and strong.

Karen Spears Zacharias has taken what must be a very personal tragedy,
and so very accurately, and eloquently delivered it to the world. This book
will move you.

Please share Karly's story with all.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This story needed to be written...and read.., March 29, 2012
This review is from: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder (Hardcover)
I have the honor of knowing Karly and her father David. Karly's murder impacted our community and deeply touched all who knew Karly and her family. "A Silence of Mockingbirds" is a very well written account that guides us through the tragedy, its precursors and its aftermath. Through well researched information, including numerous interviews with key people, it covers the factors leading up to Karly's death, it's terrible impact and the positive changes in child protection that were introduced in the wake of Karly's brutal murder at the hands of Shawn Wesley Field.

This book carefully and meticulously brings voice to many of the people involved including an important voice for its victims. You will be moved by the details of this tragedy but also by the love that Karly experienced in her short life, especially with her father David. "A Silence of Mockingbirds" succeeds in lovingly introducing us to Karly Sheehan while challenging us to not forget our failings to her as we strive to build safe and loving communities for our children.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than A Victim, March 29, 2012
This review is from: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder (Hardcover)
I'm not sure I can do this book justice. Part of me wants to say read the book and find out for yourself how powerful it is. So please forgive me ahead of time for my bumbled effort to capture something so beautiful and brilliant into a short review.

"A Silence of Mockingbirds" by Karen Spears Zacharias is a memoir about the murder of three-year-old Karly Sheedan from Oregon. She was the daughter of David Sheedan, a native of Ireland, and Sarah Brill Sheedan.

Karen Spears Zacharias was visiting her grown daughter and son in Bend, Oregon when she saw a photo of Sarah Sheedan in the local paper. As a young woman, Sarah lived in the author's home for an extended period of time and was thought of as one of the family until Ms. Zacharias and Sarah parted ways. Ms. Zacharias voiced her disapproval over Sarah's intended divorce from David. She believed Sarah needed to give her daughter, Karly, more consideration. Karly and David were extremely close. And she worried if Sarah had custody Karly wouldn't get the care and attention she needed.

The next day while out walking with her family at a local part, the author was surprised to see Sarah. The joy of the reunion dissipated quickly when Sarah was questioned about Karly's whereabouts. She gave the devastating news that Karly had been murdered and was not forthcoming with any details. So Ms. Zacharias began digging on her own. For years the author had been a cop beat reporter and thought she had seen everything.

The story she found about Karly's death sickened her. How had she fell out of touch with both Sarah and David? And so began what has turned out to be a stunning narrative. Karen Spears Zacharias knows this story from the inside out, literally. It's more than a true-crime book. This work is personal and it shows in every scene. She could have pointed fingers and handed out judgments. No one would have faulted her. But her compassion and brutal honesty makes this story all the more poignant.

While I was reading this book, I called my three-year-old granddaughter every night. I was so affected I truly cannot put it into words. Yes A Silence of Mockingbirds is a book about a horrific murder that will rock the reader to the bottom of their souls. But, Karly's story is so, so much more. This narrative is about love, the unrelenting love of a father. But mostly this memoir is a call for all of us to sit up and take notice. Speak out. Each one of us knows women like Sarah Sheedan. How many times do we turn our heads to a hint of something wrong?

After all, it's truly not our business or maybe we have the details mixed or we didn't see things they way we thought.
A Silence Of Mockingbirds taught me a lesson. Give a voice to those that can't speak loud enough to be heard. Step up. Say what you think. Don't turn your head and look the other way.

Thank you Karen Sears Zacharias for this book and God Bless you for showing Karly was so much more than a victim.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, powerful story moves us all to take action, March 20, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder (Hardcover)
I read this book over the course of two days. It is a compelling read. Ms. Spears Zacharias takes a hard, tragic, horrific story and shares it with truth, respectfulness, and compassion. She shares this story as a personal one. As hard as that must have been for her, it is a gift to the reader. I was drawn in from page one.

I wasn't sure I could read this book due to the subject matter. However, I couldn't put it down. I became a part of this story. And we all are. Karly is someone we all need to know, because we all have the power to change the lives of children in our midst--if we are aware and know what steps to take. A Silence of the Mockingbird not only tells Karly's story, but it also empowers the reader to take action to prevent this from happening again. Read this book, share it with friends, family, co-workers,and community; and let Karly's story make a difference in the lives of others.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking, hard to put down, June 25, 2012
This review is from: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder (Hardcover)
A Silence of Mockingbirds is a strange mix of nonfiction that reads much like a mystery of sorts. As Zarcharias shares the story, I was struck by how little people knew of the abuse that Karly was going through. The many signs are easy to pinpoint after the fact and Zacharias's kept me wondering what signs were visible, noticed, and what actions the adults in her life were taking. When you're not looking for abuse, it's hard to see it. It was heartbreaking to read Karly's reaction to the treatment and how she was internalizing the abuse.

A Silence of Mockingbirds left me much more sensitive to child abuse. It's a heartbreaking story and very well told.

ISBN-10: 159692375X - Hardcover $25.00
Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing; 1 edition (April 1, 2012), 325 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher and Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, Compelling, March 29, 2012
This review is from: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder (Hardcover)
Karen Zacharias' The Silence of the Mockingbirds is a must read for anyone interested in child abuse, child protection and the many ways in which child welfare authorities so often fail at their jobs. The Silence of the Mockingbirds is more than just the shocking true story of an innocent little girl who was tortured and murdered while her mother looked on and did nothing. Sadly, that's the kind of thing that happens all too often in this country. More importantly, Zacharias uses her strengths as a long-time police and courts reporter to give readers an understanding of the many shortcomings of the police, courts and child welfare agencies who were there to protect little Karly Sheehan, but didn't. Put simply, they knew everything necessary to understand that Karly was in danger and from whom, but failed to act.

We can never improve our protection of children until we understand those shortcomings. To her everlasting credit, Karen Zacharias contributes much to that understanding and in so doing gives us the opportunity to right the wrongs that led to a little girl's horrible and tragic death.

Zacharias tells a compelling story and lets us know what needs to be done to fix a deeply flawed system. Like I said, it's a must read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A FAILURE TO PROTECT, April 14, 2012
This review is from: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder (Hardcover)
On June 3, 2005, in Corvallis, Oregon, three-year-old Karly Sheehan died after being abused and tortured.

In A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder, the author, an investigative journalist, details the events leading up to this death, including the numerous failures of the system along the way.

Karly's parents, David and Sarah Sheehan, were divorced, and although David, an Irish immigrant, was the primary caretaker, the two alternated care. Sarah's relationship with Shawn Wesley Field was the turning point in Karly's life, but the ability of Sarah to deflect, to charm her way out of uncomfortable situations, and her apparent narcissism, were factors that did not end up in criminal charges against her in the end. Shawn Field was held on numerous counts and found guilty. He is serving a lengthy sentence.

Because the author had known and even cared for Sarah for a period of time during her teens, she felt a vested interest in the events and spent a great deal of time compiling facts of the case when writing this memoir.

Because of her relationship with Sarah, she knew the young woman's flaws and did not buy into the "victim" stance afforded Sarah during the trial.

It was only after the trial that the author even learned of Karly's death, as she had not been living in Corvallis at the time. The fact that Sarah did not reach out to her, or the very strange manner in which she reported the death to the author when she happened to run into her one day, set off red flags. Why had Sarah not protected her daughter? How did she so readily turn a blind eye to what was happening to her daughter?

Other questions certainly arose during her investigation and had arisen during the trial: why had the system failed to take certain steps to ensure the child's safety? And how had Karly's case fallen through the cracks?

April is Child Abuse Protection month, and it behooves us all to be more aware of the most vulnerable members of society.

In this quote, the author provides some statistics:

"Every five hours, a child in the U. S. dies from abuse or neglect, according to a 2011 investigation by the BBC journalist Natalia Antelava. The U.S. has the highest child abuse record in the industrialized world. America's child abuse death rate is triple Canada's and eleven times that of Italy..."

As a retired social worker and child protective services professional, I have encountered many alarming cases over the years. One would think I might become desensitized to the abuse, but, in fact, the opposite is true. Throughout Zacharias's story, I found myself tearing up over and over at the alarming facts of the case. In telling Karly's story, the author flashed between the past and present to weave in details of David's story, as well as Sarah's, showing the reader the very real characters and how their lives and choices impacted the victimized child. I found the reference to the protectiveness of mockingbirds an example of how far we, as humans, have yet to go to reach that level of safekeeping. Five stars.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sad but engaging "memoir of a murder", March 28, 2012
This review is from: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder (Hardcover)
In 2008 in Corvallis, Oregon, three year old Karly Sheehan was beaten to death. Shawn Wesley Field, the boyfriend of Karly's mother Sarah Sheehan was convicted of the toddler's murder. Using available electronic and written documents and interviews with Karly's father David, reporter Karen Spears Zacharias, a one-time friend of the mother, tells what led to the tragedy while making a case that society failed to protect Karly.

This is a sad but engaging "memoir of a murder" of a little girl though the entry lacks the full depth of what happened as Ms. Sheehan and Mr. Field refused to participate. Thus the account is based on public records and commentary from Mr. Sheehan, officials and the community as well as the author's knowledge; the latter is a two-edged sword as the author seems too personal with her condemnation of the mother). Additionally though a tertiary participant, Ms. Zacharias injects herself too much into her account of what went wrong as if she is writing a fictional family drama in which she is a key character. Still true crime readers will want to know what caused the tragedy that apparently most people believe was avoidable and led to a law based on the premise that adults must protect children

Harriet Klausner
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a sit down and finish in one session book!, April 1, 2012
This review is from: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder (Hardcover)
I admit that I am not familiar with Karly Sheehan's case. So, when I sat down to read this book, I was expecting a little more back ground story information regarding Karen and Sarah's relationship. Also, learning more about what Sarah, Karly's mother was like when she was living with Karen and her family. I got a brief glimpse of this.

To be honest, after reading this book, I am glad that Mrs. Zacharias did not spend much time talking about the Sarah; she knew as a "daughter" and loved. What Sarah did as a mother by not protecting Karly is wrong. I would say that I hope that Sarah feels sad and regrets the poor choice she made for the rest of her life but it seems like Sarah is living in "Sarah's" world.

I agree that David, Karly's father was a victim. He loved Karly. I could tell that just from reading this book and I do not know anything about David. I can not imagine how difficult writing this book must have been for Karen getting to know Sarah as she did. Although, it is a story that needed to be told for Karly. Her voice was not heard and was quieted too soon. For any one who knows of someone abusing or is a victim of abusive, this is a book to be read. It shows you just how much your voice does matter for a child. It could end up helping to prevent them from being put into a grave. This is a sit down and finish in one session book!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bearing Witness, May 11, 2012
By 
Sue in Baltimore (Timonium, MD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder (Hardcover)
I just finished this book; I checked it out of my library after hearing the author interviewed on NPR, and I could not put it down.

This book tells the true story of how a three-year-old girl was battered, tortured, and eventually murdered by her mother's ex-boyfriend, Shawn Field.

For me as a mother, the story is almost too painful to read. I can hardly bear to even remember the passage describing the poor girl's terror the last time her father delivered her back to her mother. Nor can I imagine the pain and guilt the father must have felt, when he learned what happened to her.

This book isn't perfect, nor are any of its main characters. No one comes off clean, absolved from responsibility. Not the author, not the father, not the professionals involved. Certainly not the mother, who clearly suffers from addiction, mental illness, or both. She failed miserably as a mother, and enabled Field, who could not have tormented Karly without her complicity. I hope she never has another child.

But it is a gripping story, well-told, and I'm glad I read it, for two reasons. First, I believe we all have a responsibility to protect the children around us, and this book illuminates, in unflinching detail, the ways we need to do better. I'm already trying to figure out if my state has a law like Karly's Law in place, and if not, how I can help move that issue forward. We need to remember Karly and other children we failed to protect, and use the darkness of their stories to enlighten our future.

Second, I believe this: When all else fails, when we as a society entirely fail our children, as happened here, one of the few things we can still do for them is bear witness. We can turn away from the pain and the responsibility, or we can bear witness.
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A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder
A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder by Karen Spears Zacharias (Hardcover - April 1, 2012)
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