By Melissa Moore-Randall
A self proclaimed unique and interesting character from Revere, Dianne Cabelus Braley is a proud, published author of Unheard Whispers and The Silence of the Sound. On September 14th she will be at Mission on the Beach from 5:00-7:00 p.m. for a book signing and the Revere Public Library on September 29th at 5:00 p.m for a book talk.
Unheard Whispers is a small book of poetry that she unexpectedly compiled while returning to college that first year while trying to sell her novel, The Silence in the Sound.
“I submitted it to a few publishers and was shocked when it got picked up. It’s a collection of poems on growing up in an alcoholic home.”
The Silence in the Sound, is a women’s fiction coming-of-age story filled with celebrity, friendship, love, addiction, and a difficult choice on the magical island of Martha’s Vineyard. It’s already won a Firebird book award and is available for presale.
“This book is my baby and my whole heart—and while it takes place on Martha’s Vineyard, it features a special place; you might have heard of… Revere Massachusetts.”
Dianne grew up on Revere Beach before moving to Revere Street in a small cape that her mother Jean still lives in. “Revere is the best city in the world to her, and while there was a time many years ago, I may have disagreed; I have to say I later realized I’m Revere, and Revere is me.”
Her childhood was spent growing up with her brother and parents. “I had two half-sisters that lived in Michigan and came around sparingly. It was odd, and things were kept separate a bit. I guess a second family was sort of taboo in those days, although I never understood it. Sadly, my sister Darci passed away, but my other sister Michelle lives near me now, and through our efforts, we became close and, against the odds, are seemingly inseparable.”
Her father was a truck driver who worked for the Teamsters Local 25 in Charlestown. “He was an alcoholic, so we lived a life settled uncomfortably in dysfunction and unpredictability. My mom struggled to make ends meet but made us feel like everything was fabulous. I don’t think my brother Richard, and I ever knew how poor we were or how bad things were for her and us. She eventually put herself through nursing school after going to Alanon and taking us along to a Children of Alcoholics meeting in Jamaica Plane every Thursday. It was the closest one for kids and a long drive from Revere, especially in a car on the verge of breaking down constantly. There, they used a lot of art therapy which I was good at, and they even had my work in an exhibit in Boston. Around then, I received a journal and started writing in it, although I wouldn’t say I liked the usual Dear Diary—Marcia Brady way of writing. It bored me. Always being inspired by music that I loved; it was the 80S, after all; I started writing almost lyrically about my feelings which I didn’t realize then but was poetry.”
Her mother eventually finished nursing school at Bunker Hill Community College taking one class at a time. “In a snowstorm when we had no school, I remember the back window of the car had a giant hole in it, and snow was covering us all blowing in and all around. I’ve never seen a woman more determined. By some miracle, my father became sober not long after, which was something we never thought possible, although I wanted nothing more. He was a massive drinker and suffered tremendously. In and out of detox with help from the Union guys a lot. It was difficult to watch and more difficult to live with. At some point, far too early, I grew up quickly and got tough even quicker. I learned at an early age a need to protect myself from hurt and disappointment. I gave up hope, I think somewhere around eight years old. It was awful as I loved him dearly, but hope was something where you only ended up hurt if you had it.”
“Growing up with an addicted parent or guardian affects kids in many ways; all kids are different. For me, I lived with an innate feeling that something was very wrong. I seriously felt the world was so backward in all my questions being a child about the world. The answers I received and saw by example always felt wrong—nothing made sense, making me anxious and alone. You don’t know if it’s your fault or you think maybe you can fix it. You also wonder if you are not lovable because if you were, wouldn’t this all stop? You never knew what you were walking into and were always on high alert. Like so many young people, I learned early on not to believe what the addict says, although you’re supposed to listen to your parents. Being raised Catholic made it more complicated because if you didn’t listen or disrespected your parents, you broke a commandment and were on your way to hell. And that’s what I wanted to do, disrespect. I was angry at my father, the addict, and for a long time, even more, mad at my mother for, at first, lecturing and getting angry at him. I’d tried to defend him but later became more furious at her for staying with him realizing he was the cause of all our issues. Being Irish and from New England, I quickly learned to deal with it all using humor and sarcasm, which has never left me, and, of course, therapy.”
Dianne considered herself an excellent student until high school. “I went to Revere High and started in all honors classes. That didn’t last long. I was an angry teenager and felt incredibly misunderstood and invisible. Although we were doing well, and everything was okay, Mom, now a nurse, and Dad sober and in college to become a drug and alcohol counselor for the Teamsters, but they didn’t get me. I felt they were idiots, and I felt the same about most adults or people in authority in my life. I only cared about my boyfriend and friends. It felt like when you turned a certain age, adults didn’t like you anymore or thought you were up to something. The only adult I respected then because he did me was Revere High School psychologist Dr. Charles Diamond. Meeting and knowing him was a pivotal point in my life. I was a tough, strong girl and was surprised someone noticed I might have something to say worth listening to. He did, and together we started a group in the school for kids with parents struggling with addiction. The parents would come in, and we’d have meetings. He convinced me to go from classroom to classroom and tell my story about growing up in addiction. I still can’t believe I did this, but his respect meant more to me than anyone in the school or my peers. This led to meetings for kids struggling with addiction; sadly, there were many.”
Dianne said she wanted to be a writer for as long as she could remember and that passion started with a journal she received as a child. “I didn’t pursue it. Being blue-collar and poor, it was taught to us early on to get a career where you can pay your bills and pursue your passions later. While I don’t regret that I did just that, I wonder what it would be like if I went to school for creative writing or journalism early on, although where my head was then, I’m not sure I could have pulled that off. I was young and foolish and traveling and fun was much more of a priority, although I knew I had to have something cooking career-wise. While I wrote short stories and poetry still, continuing off and on throughout my life, I followed in my mother’s footsteps, and with her guidance, I went to school for nursing. Helping people felt like the right direction, and I could always pay the bills—priority number one. Although throughout my career as a nurse, I still felt as though something was missing, and upon taking a private nursing job after moving to what is, for me, the most beautiful place on earth, Martha’s Vineyard, I became inspired. Not only was I surrounded by beauty, but I spent nearly every day with Pulitzer-prize-winning author William Styron, arguably best known for his book Sophie’s Choice. Being around him and his family, where creativity lived and breathed, something inside of me ignited.”
“Eventually, I started to write again, first about nursing, with multiple articles published online and printed in nursing and medical magazines. Then, I started a blog that became one of the top ten nursing blogs of 2018. Although this was exciting, a story I’d wanted to tell for some time churned inside me since leaving my beautiful island years before. I began taking notes for a few years and, in the interim, began writing poetry again, which freed me and prepared me to write my book. Then I started, and for over two years, I got up before sunrise every morning and wrote until The Silence in the Sound was completed, or so I thought. After 146 rejections and a complete revision, what feels like hundreds of beta readers, and multiple rounds of edits in the most brutal pandemic market, I finally received an offer of publication. While spending that year and a half trying to sell my book, I decided to do something unexpected and return to college. The natural course would be to go for an advanced degree in nursing, but I decided to go back for creative writing, which makes my heart sing.”
Dianne will donate a portion of the proceeds of both The Silence in the Sound and Unheard Whispers. She has partnered with Robert F. Kennedy Community Alliance which she describes as an amazing Massachusetts organization that does so much. “I have linked with their division that assists children and families affected by addiction here in our state. They help upwards of 1000 families and continue to grow. For me, it is all about the kids. There is so much funding for people struggling with addiction; while even more is needed, there is not much for kids affected by this disease. These kids have a higher probability of being addicted themselves. It’s so important to be proactive. Once someone is addicted, the odds of recovery are not favorable. Let’s put more into prevention and focus on these beautiful kids and the future.”
You can learn more about Dianne and her writing at
Below is an excerpt from her novel:
On the picturesque island of Martha’s Vineyard, an ailing celebrity novelist’s famous book about a choice helps his young nurse make a heartrending one of her own.
Fiery city girl, Georgette’s memory of a childhood trip to Martha’s Vineyard Island with her father is one of the few good times. Her father was an alcoholic, and her enabler mother chose to stay with him; his addiction was the center of their world. Georgette fled home as soon as she could; years later, as a nurse, she’s going back to the island to start her life over. There, she becomes the private nurse for the ailing prize-winning novelist, Mr. S., and becomes enamored with the mysterious Dock, a wash-ashore like her whose disappearing acts only make her crave his love more.
As Georgette cares for Mr. S. and helps him come to terms with the end of his life along Vineyard Sound’s beautiful shores, they become friends. His famous book helps her navigate her life as George finds in the running away from her past, she inadvertently ran towards it. She loses herself in her relationship with Dock, who leads her down a road of denial and impossible choices she never thought she’d have to face.
Told through the voice of Georgette. The Silence in the Sound is a provocative coming-of-age debut revealing the lasting effects of growing up in addiction. But it also demonstrates a young woman’s strength as she navigates friendship, love, and heartbreak while finding her hidden strength along the way.