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A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder

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4.12  ·  Rating details ·  945 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
In the era of Nancy Grace, calling for vengeance for the murder of children has become a kind of pornography. But the literary merits of Karly Sheehan: The True Crime Story Behind Karly's Law, by former crime reporter Karen Spears Zacharias, outweigh any prurient interest, and the art with which she carefully reconstructs events leading up to a senseless, painful tragedy i ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 325 pages
Published April 2012 by RedBird Publishing
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Mjdrean
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
I completely disagree with all those very high marks for this title. I thought this would be a book about the abuse and murder of a small girl and perhaps some lessons, professional advice and reminders of what should have been done. That turns out in my opinion to be more a flimsy side plot. This book was more about the author, her personal involvement with the mother, the author's "poor me" attitude. It reads not so subtlety as a cathartic exercise for the author. When she does lay out wrong c ...more
Autumn
Jun 20, 2012 rated it liked it


For the most part it is well written and an interesting book. However, I found myself furious at the lack of culpability of key players and their claims of "god rescued Karly" as if dying via abuse and torture was somehow god's way of rescuing a child from pain. The overtly "faithful" confuse and confound me. What I see in this situation has nothing to do with god or faith and everything to do with people only doing the bare minimum to appease their own conscience. People who turn it over to fa
...more
Laurel-Rain
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Ann
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
Here, we have the abuse, torture, and death of a small child. Her death didn't have to happen, as the author shows the system broke down, or procedures weren't followed by child care officials. The mother certainly made bad choices, accused of putting her partying and golfing in front of her girl's well-being; the father, an immigrant, also made some bad choices out of fear of being investigated and deported. The author also notes that this girl was one of 18 who died in the state that year of c ...more
LemonLinda
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the shocking true story of the murder of a 3 year old girl in Oregon. The murderer is the mother's boyfriend. And what is so shocking is that the mother let this happen. She had to know of the abuse and so she chose a boyfriend over her own child. The father was very caring, ready and willing to care for the child with full custody, but the mother insisted on shared custody even though she was a self-absorbed party girl.

Yes, it is a tough read, but it is a story that is a wake-up call fo
...more
Spelunkingster
Jan 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important stories of our time because children need a voice! Ms. Zacharias gives a powerful and honest account of Karly Sheehan from a startling POV. She reminds us that we MUST pay attention to children because sometimes they need our voice and our hands and our feet to make a change for their good. Sometimes we need to become their Mockingbird.
Shana
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who care about kids
Recommended to Shana by: Seen randomly at the library
FOUR AND A HALF STARS. Apparently, I just don't get enough of child abuse in my job as a child protection investigator. Which must be why I also read books about children being killed by abuse in my spare time. Hmmmm.... This disturbing of a child death case in Oregon in which the child was beaten to death by the mother's boyfriend is told from an interesting angle. The godmother of the mother is a journalist who lost touch with her goddaughter prior to the child's death and gets back in touch w ...more
Ann
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Susan Becraft
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So very sad, yet left me so very angry

This is the story of Karly Sheehan, a young child whose death at the hands of her mother's boyfriend, Shawn Field, should never have occurred. Not a typical true crime story, the author had known Karly's mother, Sarah, intimately for years.

Almost everyone failed Karly. The state of Oregon has Karly's blood on its hands. And why is this? Law enforcement and Child Protective Services believed Sarah when she blamed her ex-husband, David, for beating Karly and c
...more
Rio
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bio-s, first-reads
I believe that any author that sits down to share such a story with others is truly courageous. Karen Spears Zacharias certainly merits that. She has taken mountains of research and interviews to bring to us a case of child abuse in a most honest and soul-searching accomplishment.

Obviously I can't exactly comment on the "story" of this book. I mean, it's a foregone conclusion that it will tear at anyone's heart. I am certainly not oblivious to the immorality and cruelty in society, but the fact
...more
Cheryl
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 Sa
...more
Brooke
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazingly written book. That being said the fact that it is a nonfiction book made it that much harder to read. Knowing that the things described in this book happened to a 3 year old little girl, a little girl that was born the same year as my oldest son, it completely broke my heart. So many people failed this little girl. My heart breaks for her father. There were many times I wanted to throw the book in disgust and not finish it. However, I felt as though I owed it to Karly to re ...more
Gaby
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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 treatme ...more
Renika Jacobs
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sad tragedy

I have read many books in my lifetime. I love true crime and Ann Rule. I have never read a book that made me so sad and angry at the same time. I read a review of this book where someone said the author was obviously biased. My thought was of course she is. How the hell could she not be. That poor child was broken in to pieces. Her Mom, and I use that term loosely, was and probably still is the worst piece of trash on the planet. Every mother who does not protect their children are.
...more
Jessica Stock
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
A heartbreaking memoir of the torture and murder of a four year old girl. I could hardly bear to read it, and yet I couldn't put it down, the entire book you are shaking your head wondering How could this happen??? The author is a journalist, and a close friend of the family, and so the book is both thoroughly researched and highly readable, and achingly poignant. It was recommended to me by a friend, and I am glad that I read it as it has helped to make me that much more aware of the reality of ...more
Summer
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Never have I read a book that was more painful to read. Never have I read a book that broke my heart more. Never have I read a book that I have wanted less to keep reading. But never have I read a book that I thought was more important for me to get through, even if only for Karly's sake. This book is a true story, and Karly is a little girl who was tortured and murdered by her mother's boyfriend. Read it! And above all, if you have a suspicion that a child is being abused, speak up! Speak up fo ...more
Pat Garmer
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads drawing. A Silence of Mockingbirds is a portrait of the failure of the system to protect a three year old girl. This is a narrative of a real case of child abuse and the eventual murder of the child. It is heart breaking to see how often the people responsible for the case failed to follow through on reports of abuse or were fooled by lies and misdirection. This book spotlights just one of many cases where the system currently in place in our country ha ...more
Lisa Norris
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it

I couldn't put this book down. The clean, fast-paced narrative pulled me along. I kept hoping that what I knew would happen would not happen, and then I wanted--with the writer--to know HOW it could have happened that a little girl whose case had already been brought to the attention of child protective services in Corvallis, Oregon, could have slipped through the system. Zacharias' unflinching look at herself and people she loves, as well as the community of Corvallis and the legal/social servi
...more
VerJean
May 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
A random choice from the library's "new books" shelf. An investigative journalist and author who never anticipated she or people she knew would become involved in a high-profile child abuse murder. Very real circumstances of how a 3 year old slipped through the cracks of people and agencies who were supposed to be her protectors.
A tear inducing read for certain. Not written as a tear-jerker or sensationalized, but an excellent accounting of how these unspeakable crimes happen. A must-read for a
...more
Mary
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This year BR One Book, One Community book. I enjoyed it even if it is not an enjoyable subject. Written as a novel even though it is a true story. Confirms my thought that birthing does not make one a good mother. We must all be vigilent for the sake of all childern. And now right here in my city we have had a similar case in the past two weeks. There were signs, warning bells, and the little 8 year boy fell thru the cracks and died from abuse by his mother and her boyfriend. Sad times.
Julia
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was so well written that it haunted me for days making me rethink everything around me. This is the story of society's failure to protect a small child, it does not point sole blame, but makes us consider the culpability of each of us in our duty to care for the least of us. A multidimensional tale, this book manages to touch on personal guilt, societal guilt, and the duplicity of feelings for those we love and loath at the same time.
SweetAnnie
Oct 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish that this book never had to be written

I wish that this terrible tragedy had never happened. Understatement of the century. But it did, and the world was forever denied the joys of having Karly Sheehan in it. This story will break your heart and hopefully help us all become more diligent about protecting our children. The author does a good job of telling the story of Karly Sheehan sensitively, but doesn't fall into the trap of becoming an extended tabloid tale
Lorna
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Started reading "A Slience of Mockingbirds" at 7 p.m. Sunday night; finished it at 1 a.m. Monday morning . . . could not put it down. My heart aches for Karley.

I've rated this book 5 stars, not becuase of the content but because of they way it was written. Ms. Zacharias has honored the memory of Karley by telling her story in hopes that no other child will have to die.

Becky
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
A heartbreaking book about an all-too-common story. This book will (and should) make you angry at the system as well as mothers who care more about their "boyfriends" than about their children. It should be required reading for anyone who works with children, especially social workers who investigate child abuse allegations.
Heather
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autographed
I can't remember the last time I read a book cover to cover without putting it down. I have never read anything written so efficiently. I have an entirely new appreciation for Mockingbirds and what they will forever mean to me after reading Karly's story.
debra burch
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read.

The story is so unbelievably sad.She says so many times,How could a mother put her child in such a place.But it happens over and over.They put the boyfriend over everyone.
Theresa
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Child abuse

Child abuse

Such a sad story of a beautiful young girl whose life ended to soon. It is a shame that all the warning signs were missed and this little girl isn't alive today.
Brenda Gail
Heartwrenching story of a three old little girl who was being abused by her mother's boyfriend and the system failed to save her!
Dee brown
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Sarah reminds me of Casey Anthony.Its very sad how the system failed for Karly and David. Hopefully Karlys law will make a difference!
Charlotte Wallace
Great book but very disturbing story.
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Karen Spears Zacharias grew up in a military family. Her father was killed in action in 1966. That early experience led Karen into a career as a journalist. She studied at Berry College, Oregon State University and Eastern Oregon University.

Karen has worked at newspapers around the country. Her commentary has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, CNN, National Public Rad
...more
More about Karen Spears Zacharias...
“Nothing escaped Karly’s keen eye. She was intuitive and inquisitive, perceptive and observant. Girls born to neglectful mothers learn early that the world is fraught with dangers and they need to stay alert.” 0 likes
“We were keeping a tally of who is to blame and how much. Shawn was at the top and Sarah wasn’t far behind.” 0 likes
More quotes…