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Inducted into
the TEXAS
INSTITUTE OF LETTERS!
novelist, playwright, screenwriter, Journalist, rancher

SIGHS TOO DEEP FOR WORDS is the story of a man in prison who falls in love, through lengthy correspondence, with a woman he’s never met. Getting out, he goes to find her and discovers that the love letters he’s received were written not by a woman but by a closeted gay man — a small town minister. Not only did the minister deceive the prisoner, but he sent a photograph of his sister (who lives with him) as a picture representing himself. And not only is the sister unaware of the ruse, but she herself happens to be a lesbian. The ex-prisoner has fallen in love physically with a woman who doesn’t know he exists, and mentally with a man he doesn’t know how to love. Set in the scenic Texas Gulf Coast fishing village of Rockport, SIGHS TOO DEEP FOR WORDS is a darkly humorous and contemplative examination of the parameters of love, sex, sexuality and cultural perspective.
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WINNER 2013 NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCE BOOK AWARD!

WINNER 2013 USA BEST BOOK AWARD!

FINALIST 2013 BALCONES FICTION PRIZE!

FINALIST 2013 LAMBDA AWARDS!

FINALIST 2013 FOREWORD REVIEWS “BOOK OF THE YEAR”

Customer Reviews

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Novelist and playwright Sibley (Any Kind of Luck) returns with a melodramatic, spunky tale of good intentions, mistaken identity, and mixed signals. For Lester Briggs, a softhearted man serving a half-decade prison sentence for felonious theft, prison life can get stagnant and restless, and passionate sex with cellmate “Little Ray” only goes so far. So Briggs takes to the personal ads and begins a long-distance correspondence with Laurel Jeanette Yancey, with whom he soon falls in love. Freed on good behavior and filled with anticipation, he heads to Rockport, Tex., to meet his long-distance love face to face, only to discover that “Jeanette” is actually closeted Rev. Philip Yancey, who lives with his lesbian sister, Luz. A forgiving soul, Briggs gels with the Yanceys and becomes enriched (and titillated) by them both. A whirlwind of colorful characters populates Sibley’s well-crafted novel including kooky locals Melanie and Daniel, who initially drive Briggs into Rockport and befriend him. While these folks add flavor to Sibley’s crisply written narrative, it’s very much Briggs’s story about burgeoning emotions and living a true life. Sibley demonstrates dexterity in prose, deft characterization, and command of a fresh, contemporary plot line about redemption and starting over that entertains with feel-good appeal.

From Kirkus Reviews

Sibley (Any Kind of Luck, 2002) blends skillful storytelling with a sharp insight into human nature in this darkly humorous, intricately plotted tale of a prison inmate who, through years of correspondence, falls in love with a woman he has never met—a woman who turns out not only to be a gay man, but a closeted gay minister. Lester Briggs is serving a five-year prison term for stealing—of all things—a church. Out of prison early for good behavior, Lester leaves behind his cellmate and lover of convenience, “Little Ray,” and heads for the small town of Rockport, Texas, where he hopes to find Laurel Jeanette Yancey, the love of his life. He finds instead the closeted gay minister who has been writing to him; the minister’s lesbian sister; a kindly, old gas station manager who offers him advice and later a job; and a whole host of other colorful characters (most of whom end up having some bearing on the plot, however minor). Plotlines reach levels of mistaken identity, confusion and startling coincidence not often seen outside of farce or soap opera, but this infuses the events of the story with a genuine humor and insight that keeps the material fresh. Sibley deftly handles his characters’ emotions, from the brief connection between a distant father and son, to the emotional roller coaster Lester Briggs finds himself on—in love with the mind of a man and the body of that man’s lesbian sister, all while struggling to adjust to the realities of life outside of prison. It’s to Sibley’s credit that the emotional reality of the characters never suffers for the sometimes outlandish convolutions of the plot. Readers looking for an entertaining book with surprising touches of depth and emotion are sure to enjoy this fresh, dramatic tale. Funny, touching, heartbreaking and insightful. Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, entertaining and ultimately moving, June 24, 2013
By
Toby Johnson “toby” (Central Texas, United States) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Sighs Too Deep For Words (Paperback)
The premise of this novel is great all by itself — the penpal who been writing a prisoner is not at all who she says she is; he’s actually a closeted Baptist minister. From the internet, we know identity is a curious thing. This book plays off that trope of modern experience, but takes it in such unexpected directions. The unfolding of the story is always entertaining, the writing crisp, the characters nicely described. The book holds attention, and then toward the end becomes really touching and sweet. There’s an underlying wisdom to the story, though that’s handled very lightly. I REALLY liked this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life from the Gay AND Straight Viewpoint, June 17, 2013
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This review is from: Sighs Too Deep For Words (Paperback)
This is a hilarious book and since I live a few miles from Rockport, the setting for the book, I can attest that Bill Sibley got the South Texas coastal tourist scene absolutely right, and if this book doesn’t have you laughing aloud, you don’t have a sense of the ridiculous, or a sense of humor. This book is also filled with true love of several kinds and the general goodness of people, so I found it rewarding.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow….., June 17, 2013
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That’s what I was doing when I finished this book. Sighing, because I was so happy after reading this great book! Highly recommend!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story!, May 24, 2013
By
octobercountry (the Land of Trees and Heroes) – See all my reviews

“Sighs…” is a solid piece of work, a well-written study of convoluted relationships as each of half-a-dozen different characters try to figure out their places in life, where they belong and what they’re looking for. After finishing the novel I have to say that I’d be more than interested in reading other works by the author, but I believe he only has one other book in print (Any Kind Of Luck). Apparently he’s been focusing on the theatre and screenplays instead of novels, which is a pity in my mind because I’d like to read more of his work!One of the things that I liked most about the book is the fact that I had NO IDEA where the story was headed at any given moment. We’ve all read books where we can pretty much say exactly what is going to happen by the end, after reading only the first couple of pages. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with that—it’s how the journey proceeds that determines if a novel is engrossing or a bit of a bore, not necessarily how predictable the plot is. But in this case—nope, didn’t have a clue as to what would happen next.

Definitely worth a read, for sure—recommended.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a hoot!, May 14, 2013
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This review is from: Sighs Too Deep For Words (Paperback)
A middle class, middle aged suburban Grandmother, I am probably not the target audience for this book. That said, I spent several evening reading with a sloppy grin plastered on my face and enjoying every minute. ‘Sighs’ is written with a wicked sense of humor about quirky characters I would love to know in person. Underlying the humor is a serious theme about finding oneself, true love & community without being heavy handed. Decidedly well written. Buy this book and read it slowly. You won’t want it to end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Lonesome Ex-Con Seeks Love in the Lone Star State with Highly Entertaining Results, April 29, 2013
This review is from: Sighs Too Deep For Words (Paperback)

William Jack Sibley has achieved the unimaginable with his second novel: He has made Republicans from Texas likable.For all of their bitchiness, surface superficiality and forgivable flaws, some of the characters in “Sighs Too Deep For Words” are also funny and humane people at heart, despite their politics and 1 percent ways.

That’s not to say Sibley doesn’t take a lot of things to task in this heartwarming tale, including America’s health care system, Hollywood, Tea Party members and oil companies. There are outlandish zingers, some hilarious one-liners, very original similes and plenty of surprises as a group of residents in the small coastal fishing village of Rockport, Texas, come to know one another through chance and coincidence.

At the heart of the story is Lester, an ex-con who has come to town seeking the love of his life, a woman he has never met who has won his heart by writing to him during his nearly four-year incarceration. When he tracks her down, Lester not only gets the surprise (and disappointment) of his life, he also discovers the life he was meant to lead as a circle of people–including a closeted Episcopal minister and his sister, a couple of spoiled rich kids, a kindly and wise gas station attendant and the town’s elite summer residents–befriend him while he continues to seek the love that will make his new life complete.

Sibley’s characters are a little too clever, the comebacks a little too quick, the plot a little too treacly and the reader can see the ending coming from a hundred miles away. Despite all of that, I really liked this book. There is a deeply religious and spiritual component that you don’t often find in this genre and a profoundly existential undercurrent that runs through the pages. It opens with a quote from Romans that gives the novel its title–“Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words”–and God’s unpredictable plan is a theme that recurs in the book, which has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, Balcones Fiction Prize and the ForeWord Reviews Book of The Year.

Sibley, a playwright and screenwriter, has a caustic wit, but the author’s good heart shines through in the way he treats his characters and the way they treat one another with acceptance and respect. So what if it’s a little too soap opera-ish? In Sibley’s hands, that’s not a bad thing.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Cast of Characters, April 17, 2013
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Willaim Sibley has a unique way of describing his various characters in that you truly felt like you knew each one. Great story of love, friendship and faith in humanity!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reading., March 27, 2013
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This review is from: Sighs Too Deep For Words (Paperback)
Very interesting book and written in a method allowing one to feel part of the book. It is of true life and still surprises around each event. Really good book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sighs, too deep for words, March 13, 2013

I read this book, in exchange for honest review from Netgalley. I started the book a few days ago and read about 100 pages in one night. Definitely will borrow this book with my prime membership. The book was amazing. I loved how the character was looking for his prison pen pal, but could not find her in the beginning. The former inmate has to find a place to stay and get rid of his prison look too. Mr. Otis noticed how he was still wearing his prison shoes, carrying around his prison bag, and had a innocent look in his eyes.I also loved the scenes and character development. This was an excellent book and I can not wait to finish it in the future.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, inspiring, and beautifully written. Definitely worth reading, February 20, 2013

Sighs Too Deep For Words is a story that follows a man named Lester who has just been released from prison. He is at a loss in the new world and is trying to adjust. His first priority though is to surprise a woman named Laurel. Lester and Laurel have been writing each other back and forth for the past four years while he was in jail. He loves her and he knows she loves him too, so a surprise visit will be a great way to finally meet. But Lester is let down when he finds out Laurel may not be who he thought she was. She may be a he. That he being her minister brother Philip who isn’t quite out of the closet yet and not really comfortable with himself. As you can imagine, Philip is not Lester’s favorite person right now. So Lester has to figure out how to make Laurel want him and yet still try to figure out where he fits in the scheme of things.This is going on my favorites list of 2013. Goodness gracious what a great read. The characters, the dialogue, and the story came together so beautifully. This book will make you go through every emotion possible. It was such a roller coaster ride. Full of laughs, deceit, misunderstandings, and downright craziness.

I absolutely loved the characters. Lester was a great lead character. He was definitely trying to find his place in the world after being in jail. While he was in jail, things definitely happened and it may have changed him even though he doesn’t want to admit it. I loved following him on his journey along with the people he met. I loved Otis. He had me laughing so hard, but I love how much we learn about his son and where he fits into the story which I found interesting. Then we have the Wheelwrights. Oh my goodness is this one hell of a family. Yvonne is the mother. I have to admit, I didn’t think I would like her. I thought she was one of those snooty moms that care for nothing but their looks. But I was wrong. She knew things and never let them bring her down or tear her a part. Well mostly anyway. Then we have dad named Bob who loves his boats. So much so, that it seems he has neglected his family. But he is dealing with some huge issues of his own that I didn’t expect. But again, I couldn’t hate him. I felt sorry for him.

Then we have their children, Melanie and Daniel. They are both wild and eccentric and easily the most fun characters in this book. Daniel is gay and doesn’t hold back. He knows what he wants and he goes after it. Melanie is the same way, but she shouldn’t be considering she is set to be married. She is getting all of her angst out before she ties the knot to someone she may not love. It seems more like she wanted him for his money and his lifestyle not much. She definitely has her own revelations in this book that she needed to make. My goodness, the stunts this girl can pull will have you in shock and/or just laughing nervously out loud. I love how Lester’s meeting with them changes things big time. They both were crushing hard on Lester. I won’t even mention where that goes.

I just love how things played out. Philip wasn’t ready to get out of the closet given his occupation, but he really was lonely. All he had was his sister who happens to be a lesbian herself which Lester doesn’t know about yet. It was nuts to say the least. But Lester’s arrival starts such a domino effect, it was amazing. They weren’t kidding about that six degrees of separation thing, were they? I won’t lie, the meetings between these characters were just a little too convenient, but given where it ended up, I won’t complain. Well except with Bob’s predicament. I wanted a little more tension there even if the ending is still the same. I think everything should have been laid out first and see where it went then. He got let off a bit to easy for my taste. Nonetheless, I won’t spoil you guys, just know I loved the ending.

This is a must read for me. The story kept me enthralled. It was just very human. You don’t really see gay, straight or in between. You don’t see religion, society, lies, mistakes, or secrets. You see all that makes them human. The things they have to face. The inner demons they all have to battle themselves and admit to those closest to them no matter how much it may hurt. I just loved this read. It is definitely a more adult look at the modern day family and modern life, but still manages to be a little light so it doesn’t feel like some Lifetime movie (Good Lord nooooooooo!) This is such a beautifully written book. It is heartfelt, thought-provoking, and emotional. This will leave you smiling. Highly recommended.

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