This is How It Begins by Joan Dempsey-A Review

“The Holocaust began in the hearts of people. As soon as you go and say “that Jew” it has begun.” Page 385 This Is How It Begins. by Joan Dempsey

The picture which headlines this review is of a Roma Sinti girl at Auschwitz. Millions of Jewish people, Roma people and gay people were victims of the Holocaust.


It will never happen again. I’ve heard that line from many who have spoken on television documentaries or from people I know.

It must never happen again.

This Is How It Begins is a novel, a work of fiction but…it is set in our times, present day, with our plethora of social media, search engines, mobile phones. Everything just a fingertip touch away if we wish to find it.

Joan Dempsey takes us on a journey into the past and the present which starts to reflect the past.

Ludka Zeilonka born in Poland before World War II, lived through the horrific violence of that war. Now 85, married and living in America she is thrust back into the memories of Nazi occupation of her town and of the Jewish people who suffered alongside them.

Her grandson, Tommy is a teacher and secure with his life. Until, in schools across their state, teachers are fired for conduct unbecoming. Their crime? They are gay.

The masterminds behind these firings are a fundamentalist Christian group who believe their children are being persecuted for their Christian beliefs and subjected to teachings which go against that faith.

However, throw a stone in a pond and the murk will rise to the surface. There is far more going on behind the public statements and Ludka must face her past as this modern-day pogram threatens her family and her way of life.

Joan Dempsey writes with confidence and her characters stay with you long after you have put down the novel. It stirs your thoughts and makes you question what you know to be true, or is it? In short; this novel has its finger on the pulse of today and how hate crimes and violence against those who are painted as being different is not so different from how it might have been in Nazi Germany.

A wonderful novel, so well written with a voice that whispers before it roars its conclusion.  I will remember this novel long after it takes pride of place in my bookcase.

It stirred so many emotions in me, so many. I cried, I became angry and fearful too. In my family, Irish and Roma, the past is a two-headed snake. I am married to my wonderful wife and we are in love with a beautiful future to look forward to. No one has the right to take that away from us.

“Let him without sin cast the first stone.”

The song accompanying this review is Djelem Dejelem – I’m Travelling

22 thoughts on “This is How It Begins by Joan Dempsey-A Review

  1. I absolutely agree with Trent…The older I get and the more I see I really struggle with prejudice, truly I have many good friends and family of different faiths, colour and other preferences but we all are like one great big melting pot and live and work in harmony…I don’t get all this and it saddens me as to how and why it begins or indeed in some instances has carried on through time…Hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for this mindful review, Adele. Wishing Joan much success.
    Yes, it is frightening… terrifyingly possible. When I was in high school, a teacher showed us film, newsreel, footage made just before the USA entered WWII. I didn’t know the language, but it was obvious that the speaker had the crowd in an adoring, frenzied, chanting fever. Their devoted enthusiasm caused me to gasp as my stomach lurched. Who was the speaker? Adolph Hitler.
    I imagine that crowd didn’t know half as much (of the bad things) about the speaker as those who chant, rave, and embrace know about their leader today. *That* is beyond frightening.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Adele, and all you lovely folks who have commented on this review. I’m delighted that my novel sparks such interest. One of the comments I hear the most is how “prescient” my novel turned out to be, given the state of things in America right now . . . I sure wish that wasn’t true!

    Thank you, readers, for considering my novel, and for helping to spread the word. I appreciate it!

    Joan Dempsey

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Joan, It sounds a wonderful book and is about a subject very close to my heart. My husband is Jewish and part of his family come from Lodz in Poland. Most emigrated to SA, the USA and the UK well before WW2. Of the few who remained, one brother and his family, including three little girls, were murdered in one of the camps and we received the family tree many years later which confirmed it. It made my blood run cold. I’ve been working on a book:(half finished) now called “The Dombrowski Family” of how repercussions of terrible happenings affect later generations and how resilience,humour and sheer strength of character can stave off insanity. I’m fascinated by the mind, but will never fathom the sheep-like following of lunatic dictators or the hatred which exists in so many people Peace and hope. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joy, I wish you luck with your book and would love to read it once finished. I too don’t’ understand how people can follow any of the worlds lunatic dictators and have so much hatred in their hearts. xxx


    • Joy, thanks so much for your kind remarks, and for sharing a bit about your family’s story; so many of these stories do make one’s blood run cold.

      If you don’t yet know the work of Dr. Eva Fogelman, you should check her out. She’s done amazing work on the psychology of survivors and their families and her work was instrumental in forming several of my characters. You can find her here:

      A book that might be of interest about “sheep” is “They Thought They Were Free,” by Milton Mayer.

      Best of luck with your work, Joy!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.