When Crickets Cry

When Crickets Cry

by Charles Martin


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From the author of The Mountain Between Us and the New York Times bestseller Where the River Ends.

“. . . charming characters and twists that keep the pages turning.” —Southern Living

A man with a painful past. A child with a doubtful future. And a shared journey toward healing for both their hearts.

It begins on the shaded town square in a sleepy Southern town. A spirited seven-year-old has a brisk business at her lemonade stand. But the little girl’s pretty yellow dress can’t quite hide the ugly scar on her chest.

Her latest customer, a bearded stranger, drains his cup and heads to his car, his mind on a boat he's restoring at a nearby lake. The stranger understands more about the scar than he wants to admit. And the beat-up bread truck careening around the corner with its radio blaring is about to change the trajectory of both their lives.

Before it's over, they'll both know there are painful reasons why crickets cry . . . and that miracles lurk around unexpected corners.

"If you read any book this year, this is the one." —Coffee Time Romance

"Martin's writing is gifted and blessed and insightful. His prose captures the essence of the story with beauty and sensitivity. I look forward to reading more of his work, past and future." —onceuponaromance.net

"[O]ne of the best books I've been asked to review, and certainly the best one this year!" —bestfiction.tripod.com

"How is Charles Martin able to take mere words and breathe such vibrant life into them? Each character is drawn with an artist's attention to detail, beauty and purpose. Readers won't want the story to end because that means leaving these lovable people who have become so much more than just a name in a book." —inthelibraryreviews.net

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781595540546
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 04/04/2006
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 44,476
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Charles Martin is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels. He and his wife, Christy, live in Jacksonville, Florida.

Read an Excerpt


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.

Customer Reviews

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When Crickets Cry 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 184 reviews.
BRENDA SIMMONS More than 1 year ago
WAS A BIT BOGGED DOWN IN BEGINNING, too much off track. IT got much better halfway through and was heart warming.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book and would recommend.
Melrocks2001 More than 1 year ago
I really liked the storyline of this book. A young girl needs a heart transplant and a brilliant heart-transplant surgeon just happens to meet her while he's hiding from his past. It's written with a couple chapters in the present then a couple in the past for back story, which worked nicely. I got a little bored about 2/3 of the way through- and a little more than a little frustrated with the medical lingo- the detail was nice at first, but then seemed to take over when the story got more involved with the hospital side of things. . . From there I just got more and more frustrated at the predictability and how everything fell a little too neatly into place in order to make the story as heart-wrenching as possible. . . I would recommend this but wouldn't rave about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A heart gripper!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was disappointing because it could have been so much better if not so simplistic and contrived. From the very beginning it was obvious that the plot would follow a certain course and the ending was never in any doubt. However, that the author chose to play games with his readers ruined the book for me. The coincidence of a tornado, the failure of Annie's heart and the appearance of a heart for transplant all at the same time was just too much to swallow. Then, even worse, the "trick" ending to fool the reader and then the almost unexplained real ending was an insult to the reader. This book could have been so good if the author had treated his readers as adults and not written it as if hoping it would become a Hallmark movie.
Cindy O'Dell 26 days ago
Second book of Charles Martins that I have read...a page turner and a heart gripper!
Gail Kelly 3 months ago
I purchased this ebook on sale, I really enjoyed this book. The book is well written, the story line doesn't want you to put the book down.
Anonymous 6 months ago
This book has touched my heart like no other. My dad had a heart transplant in 1991. The emotions, the fear, and the hope I had when going through this journey with my dad is all in this beautiful book. I have no words to express the gratitude I feel in finding When Crickets Cry. I would give 10 stars if I could.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Heatwarming..... one of my favorites.
Anonymous 11 months ago
This is a wonderful story of love and redemption. I spent all my summers on Lake Burton. - mostly in the 1960s. Mr. Martin's descriptions are evocative and bring back so many happy memories. This book tells a beautiful, sometimes sad, story, and I loved every minute of it. For that matter, I have loved each and every novel Mr. Martin has written! Please don't stop writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
made me cry made me feel. beautiful writing . will be reading more from this author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and it kept me completely interested beginning to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure I would like this book in the beginning but was soon caught up in the story. Medical based but author does a good job explaining. I recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good!
NanceeMarchinowski More than 1 year ago
Exceptional! Charles Martin put an enormous amount of research into this book! The heart is a medical marvel, and this story is an education into the dynamics of how the heart functions, both its mysteries and its anatomy. The characters in this book will live in my heart for a long time to come. Descriptive, soulful and spiritually enlightening. This book is a winner!
dld701 More than 1 year ago
BBBs on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written story.
cafischer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book that once you start you can hardly put it down. I have now read every book by Charles Martin and haven't been disappointed in any of them. He is a remarkable author, able to keep your attention and I look forward to his next one. I would put him right up there with Nicholas Sparks!
vvrafters on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jonny has spent his whole life on a mission. He is one of those rare people who knows his purpose on this earth from a very young age. He was born to fix hearts, or more precisely, Emma's heart.From the third grade, every moment of his life has been leading up to one thing, healing Emma. So when things go awry, when he can't save Emma, guilt consumes him. He leaves his avocation and goes into hiding.But God isn't done with Jonny. This is a story of his gradual reawakening, his redemption, and hope. The characters are so real you are left wondering what they're doing now. You cheer for them, cry with them, and hope with them. The human spirit is a miracle of God, and Charles Martin knows.Read it.
alegion on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
First inspirational book that I read. Wasn't really heavy on the Christian stuff but I cried like twice. Author did a good job of keeping the suspense and mystery of the characters. Simply a good book.
debs4jc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An encounter with a girl at a lemonade stand starts the main character, Reese, on a journey out of his self-imposed isolation. Reese was once more than a man who likes to restore boats and pal around with his brother-in-law. And the secret to who he once was may be just what Annie--who has a terminal illness--needs.This is a heart-felt story, if you are prone to cry be sure to have plenty of kleenex on hand as you read it. Out of tragedy comes hope and a chance for redepmtion and a brighter future. This is a good story to savor and the characters will stick in your memory for a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SusieSC More than 1 year ago
I found the book very predictable and it was very boring at the beginning. I prefer to read books where I can't wait to return to read where I left off and then I feel satisfied when the story ends. I also found an important part in the book to be upsetting and not plausable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Great story line, and characters I could get attached to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Charles Martin definitely has a descriptive writing style. It isn't too descriptive that is over the top and annoying. His writing paints the perfect picture for the reader. Very fast read.