Synopses & Reviews
Investigative journalist and author Karen Spears Zacharias never anticipated that she would become one of the characters involved in a high-profile murder. But when she reconnects with a young woman named Sarah, who lived in the Zacharias home at one time and was treated like family, Karen discovers that something unspeakable has happened to Sarah's daughter, Karly. Compelled to consider her own culpability in this tragic case, Karen pieces together what happened to Karly through court documents, investigators' interviews, and interviews with friends, family, law enforcement officials, and key witnesses. As the terrible story unfolds, the hard question emerges for everyone involved, indeed all of us: Why was no cry raised to protect Karly? This is also the story of a father's unrelenting love for his daughter, an immigrant's tragic struggle for redemption, and a journalist's urgent call for change.
"On June 3, 2005, three-year-old Karly Sheehan, daughter of divorced parents Sarah and David Sheehan, was beaten to death. Convicted in the case was Sarah's boyfriend, Shawn Field. Although Karly showed signs of abuse shortly after Sarah met Shawn, and a concerned daycare worker reported as much to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 'a continuum of failure' caused the case to fall through the cracks. The author (also a journalist) knew Sarah when Sarah was a student at the school where Zacharias was a substitute teacher, and for a short time Sarah lived with the Zacharias family. Yet the author lost track of Sarah, and Karly had been dead for two years before Zacharias learned of the murder. Though pitched as a memoir, Zacharias never recounts meeting Karly, and much of the material comes from interviews, though not with Sarah or Shawn. Chronologically unclear, melodramatic (e.g., When the author hears of the tragedy, she exclaims, 'Oh, dear God. Dearest. God.'), and repetitive, Zacharias's telling of Karly's truly tragic story seems exploitative and sensationalist. Nevertheless, the author poignantly highlights the problem of underreported child abuse, and points to the Oregon State Legislature's unanimous passing of Karly's Law which made it mandatory for caseworkers and law enforcement officers to notify authorities of suspected victims of abuse as an example for the rest of the nation. (Apr. 1)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Author Karen Spears Zacharias has been featured on Huffington Post, Good Morning America, & CNN. Her commentary has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and on NPR's "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition." Karen blogs at Patheos.com and teaches journalism at Central Washington University. Karen wrote this book while serving as writer-in-residence at the Fairhope Center for the Writing Arts, Fairhope, AL. She divides her time between the Deschutes River in Oregon and Mobile Bay in Alabama.