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When Crickets Cry Paperback – April 2, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 656 customer reviews

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About the Author

Charles Martin is the critically-acclaimed author of The Dead Don’t Dance and Wrapped in Rain. He and his wife, Christy, live a stone’s throw from the St. John’s River in Jacksonville, Florida, with their three boys: Charlie, John T., and Rives. --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


I pushed against the spring hinge, cracked open the screen door, and scattered two hummingbirds fighting over my feeder. The sound of their wings faded into the dogwood branches above, and it was there that the morning met me with streaks of sunkist cracking across the skyline. Seconds before, God had painted the sky a mixture of black and deep blue, then smeared it with rolling wisps of cotton and sprayed it with specks of glitter, some larger than others. I turned my head sideways, sort of corkscrewing my eyes, and decided that heaven looked like a giant granite countertop turned upside down and framing the sky. Maybe God was down here drinking His coffee too. Only difference was, He didn't need to read the letter in my hand. He already knew what it said.

Below me the Tallulah River spread out seamlessly into Lake Burton in a sheet of translucent, unmoving green, untouched by the antique cutwaters and Jet Skis that would split her skin and roll her to shore at 7:01 a.m. In moments, God would send the sun upward and westward where it would shine hot, and where by noon the glare off the water would be painful and picturesque.

I stepped off the back porch, the letter clutched in my hand, and picked my barefoot way down the stone steps to the dock. I walked along the bulkhead, felt the coolness of the mist rising on my legs and face, and climbed the steps leading to the top of the dockhouse. I slid into the hammock and faced southward down the lake, looking out over my left knee. I looped my finger through the small brass circle tied to the end of a short string and pulled gently, rocking myself.

If God was down here drinking His coffee, then He was on his second cup, because He'd already Windexed the sky. Only the streaks remained.

Emma once told me that some people spend their whole lives trying to outrun God, maybe get someplace He's never been. She shook her head and smiled, wondering why. Trouble is, she said, they spend a lifetime searching and running, and when they arrive, they find He's already been there.

I listened to the quiet but knew it wouldn't last. In an hour the lake would erupt with laughing kids on inner tubes, teenagers in Ski Nautiques, and retirees in pontoon boats, replacing the Canadian geese and bream that followed a trail of Wonder Bread cast by an early morning bird lover and now spreading across the lake like the yellow brick road. By late afternoon, on the hundreds of docks stretching out into the lake, charcoal grills would simmer with the smell of hot dogs, burgers, smoked oysters, and spicy sausage. And in the yards and driveways that all leaned inward toward the lake's surface like a huge salad bowl, folks of all ages would tumble down Slip'n Slides, throw horseshoes beneath the trees, sip mint juleps and margaritas along the water's edge, and dangle their toes off the second stories of their boathouses. By 9:00 p.m., most every homeowner along the lake would launch the annual hour-long umbrella of sonic noise, lighting the lake in flashes of red, blue, and green rain. Parents would gaze upward; children would giggle and coo; dogs would bark and tug against their chains, digging grooves in the back sides of the trees that held them; cats would run for cover; veterans would remember; and lovers would hold hands, slip silently into the out coves, and skinny-dip beneath the safety of the water. Sounds in the symphony of freedom.

It was Independence Day.

Unlike the rest of Clayton, Georgia, I had no fireworks, no hot dogs, and no plans to light up the sky. My dock would lie quiet and dark, the grill cold with soot, old ashes, and spiderwebs. For me, freedom felt distant. Like a smell I once knew but could no longer place. If I could, I would have slept through the entire day like a modern-day Rip van Winkle, opened my eyes tomorrow, and crossed off the number on my calendar. But sleep, like freedom, came seldom and was never sound. Short fits mostly. Two to three hours at best.

I lay on the hammock, alone with my coffee and yellowed memories. I balanced the cup on my chest and held the wrinkled, unopened envelope. Behind me, fog rose off the water and swirled in miniature twisters that spun slowly like dancing ghosts, up through the overhanging dogwood branches and hummingbird wings, disappearing some thirty feet in the air.

Her handwriting on the envelope told me when to read the letter within. If I had obeyed, it would have been two years ago. I had not, and would not today. Maybe I could not. Final words are hard to hear when you know for certain they are indeed final. And I knew for certain. Four anniversaries had come and gone while I remained in this nowhere place. Even the crickets were quiet.

I placed my hand across the letter, flattening it upon my chest, spreading the corners of the envelope like tiny paper wings around my ribs. A bitter substitute.

Around here, folks sit in rocking chairs, sip mint juleps, and hold heated arguments about what exactly is the best time of day on the lake. At dawn, the shadows fall ahead of you, reaching out to touch the coming day. At noon, you stand on your shadows, caught somewhere between what was and what will be. At dusk, the shadows fall behind you and cover your tracks. In my experience, the folks who choose dusk usually have something to hide.

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595540547
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595540546
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (656 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
What happens when you have a broken hearted man and a small child who is clinging to a thread of life and somehow, through an act of God, their lives touch and connect? This is the essence of this outstanding work by Charles Martin, "When Crickets Cry."

Annie has very little time to live, she has a heart problem, but she is a strong little girl, one determined to either win or go down fighting. Reese is a medical doctor who could not save his wife and keep her heart beating; his sorrow runs deep over the agony of losing her. He meets Annie while in town one day as he buys a glass of her lemonade; a drink she is selling to help pay for her medical bills. Suddenly a truck goes out of control and hits Annie right before Reese's eyes. Neither of their lives will ever be the same.

We watch this story and this relationship develop; two souls grabbing onto each other, almost like two drowning victims who fight to reach the surface and suck air into their deflating lungs. They become each other's air and God merges the two souls together

as a healing balm, one for another, in a way that neither knew existed.

The emotions in this read run deep, the storyline is captivating and the ending will surely bring a smile and a tear. Very well done Mr. Martin. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
When Crickets Cry is a book about the heart. It's a book about that funky-looking muscle in our chests that pumps the blood throughout our bodies. It's a book about that ephemeral thing we call the heart when we speak about love and passion. It's a book about the place where the two--that muscle and other thing--intersect.

It's also one of the best books I've been asked to review, and certainly the best one this year!

The Story

Reese Mitch is a guy who works on boats on a lake in Georgia. Expensive boats owned by rich people who can afford to pay someone else lots of money to refurbish what would probably look to most of us like an old tub. With his blind brother-in-law Charlie as his partner, Reese's skills are in high demand.

There's more to Reese than meets the eye, though. For one thing, he used to be married. And he used to be a phenomenal heart surgeon. But no one in this little corner of Georgia knows that (except Charlie, and he's willing to keep quiet). To them, Reese is just that strange, vagrant-looking guy ... until one day when he saves the life of Annie, a seven year old little girl who needs a heart transplant as is everyone's favorite lemonade saleswoman.

With flashbacks and details (about heart surgery, rowing, and boat repair), When Crickets Cry tells a story--the story--of the human heart and it's enormous capacity and resilience.

The Writing

The story starts slow, but still drew me along, rather like a slow fishing boat trying to pull a skier aloft. But that's just part of the overall motif. Like a diseased heart (and I mean that in the best possible way), this book starts slow, then builds to a fevered pitch as the heart beats harder and harder, faster and faster.
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Format: Paperback
In his latest novel, When Crickets Cry, Charles Martin offers fiction that examines Christian virtues. Haunted by his past as a former failed physician, Reese must overcome his own guilt and grief before he can perform the life-saving heart transplant operation needed by a little girl named Annie. The plot shifts between flashback and present, and between heartbreak and hope, leading up to a dramatic conclusion.

Martin has created highly developed characters, lifelike dialogue, and a well crafted story. He draws his readers along with just enough details, until the right time when the whole truth about Reese's past is revealed. When Crickets Cry is full of information about the heart, both as a muscle--the result of much research--and as the housing of our souls. Geared toward adults, this book is good reading for the story alone. However, because of its soulful insights, it also would make an excellent addition to any church library as a counseling tool. - Bridgette L. Oakes, Christian Book Previews.com
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Let me begin with a reminder that this is a work of fiction, a novel, to be enjoyed for its story, not for its factual detail. That said, there is a large part of this story that rings so true to life, with basis on the author's interviews with real heart transplant surgeons, that it may be hard to keep that in mind as the story gets so engrossing and enters the reader's own heart.

Author Charles Martin writes stories dealing with lives that come to life in the telling. In this about to be released (due out April 4th, 2006) new book about a recluse heart transplant surgeon, we come close to feeling the emotions and fears of such a doctor as he deals with three patients whose lives depend on receiving heart transplants through his gifted skills. They are not only patients but become connected to his own heart in ways that I cannot describe without giving away the storyline. Leave it be said their lives become intertwined as your own heart also in reading their stories. Be forewarned, this book quickly engulfs its reader such that I began the book as my plane left Philadelphia, and by the time it had landed 5 hours later, I had to finish it before I could continue with the business of my travels. Later, as we often do with really special stories, my wife and I read it aloud to each other, crying and laughing out loud, trading reading roles as our eyes filled with tears of joy and sadness, blurring our vision. Together we found the same engrossing experience, unable to put it down until the full story had unfolded, and then we fell back, emotionally exhausted with smiles on our faces. Her description of this book was in two words, "heart-filled and heartfelt.
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