Uncivil Liberties: A Novel

Uncivil Liberties: A Novel


Bernie Lambek
May 2018

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Additional Information:

Release Date: May 25, 2018
ISBN:  9781578690060
LCCN: 2017963963


After a high school student is found dead at the bottom of a rock ledge on the outskirts of Montpelier, Vermont, the community confronts its conflicting beliefs and values—and the truths below the surface. A complex and timely legal mystery, Uncivil Liberties explores hate speech and free speech, cyberbullying and privacy, religious and sexual freedom, and a community's many faces of love and loss. In the courtrooms and streets and bedrooms of Montpelier, lawyers and clients and loved ones grapple with moral convictions and prejudices. The novel is imbued with a deep respect for the law as well as for the passionate and irrational human beings who live within, and sometimes beyond, its constraints.


"... It’s a deftly nuanced, multilayered narrative that’s as much about the complex relationships among its many supporting characters as it is about courtroom maneuvers. ... A novel with articulate, well-paced, and thoughtful social commentary—and a few surprises along the way."
— Kirkus Review read the entire review here


"… a splendid legal mystery, with savvy political ethics and vivid characters . . . a great story. By roiling up subterfuge and bad behavior, Lambek subverts conventional notions of pastoral New England. … This is the edgy, noirish B-side of "Moonlight in Vermont."
— Howard Norman, author My Darling Detective and The Bird Artist


"In a small New England town where everybody seems to know everyone else's business, people are forced to confront some of the most taboo moral issues of the day… An intriguing book, especially for addicts of courtroom drama. The interplay between the legal issues and protagonists is constantly interesting and surprising.  Be prepared for shocks."
—Simon Mawer, Man Booker Prize Shortlist, author The Glass Room and Tightrope 


"…should be required reading in any law school curriculum, by any book group that prizes good literature, by anyone who enjoys whodunits, and by those who value common decency and friendship."
—James Morse, retired Vermont Supreme Court Justice


"…an engrossing story about lawyers grappling with complex legal, professional, and personal issues. Set in Vermont, Lambek’s entertaining narrative follows an episodic path to an unpredictable conclusion. A great read!"  
—Stephen Wizner, William O. Douglas Clinical Professor of Law at Yale Law School


"…a thoroughly engaging portrayal of Vermont's pot-holed road towards a more civil society. Its characters entertain us, even as its narrative educates us."
—Bill Schubart, author Lila & Theron


“She remembered some story that Ricky had espoused fundamentalist religious opinions, and she had wondered whether his faith was what her daughter had admired, in spite of their differences.

“Legalese and courtroom banter become relatable, even enjoyable, in this debut novel from Montpelier lawyer Bernie Lambek about a gay high school student's death. After Kerry Pearson is found at the bottom of a cliff, an apparent suicide, the tragedy throws Montpelier into an uproar, bringing lawyers into the fold who must explore the complexities of bullying, preferential treatment for heterosexuals, discrimination, and religious and sexual freedom. While the content is heavy, the familiar landscape helps readers feel at ease. The novel is littered with local landmarks — some slightly altered, such as "Sacred Grounds" standing in for local coffee shop Capitol Grounds. Such small changes aside, the book feels as if it could, and did, happen in our own backyard, and it couldn't be more timely.”

Sadie Williams, Seven Days

Meet Bernie

Bernie Lambek Photo

Bernie Lambek grew up in Montreal, the son of Jewish refugees from Nazi Europe. He studied philosophy at Dartmouth College, lived on a communal farm, and taught fourth grade for several years. He later attended Yale Law School, where he published articles on civil disobedience and international human rights. After judicial clerkships, including with Judge Fred Parker on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Lambek has practiced law at Zalinger Cameron & Lambek in Montpelier, Vermont, for the past 25 years. He represents a number of school districts around Vermont, occasionally dealing with issues of student speech and religion in the schools. In a 2012 lawsuit, Lambek and ACLU colleagues successfully challenged the practice of holding official prayer at town meeting in Vermont. Lambek serves on the Boards of the Vermont ACLU and the Green Mountain Film Festival. His wife, Linda Sproul, is a retired obstetric and pediatric nurse and they have three sons and four grandchildren. He plays table tennis and recently competed in the National Senior Games in Birmingham, AL. Uncivil Liberties is his first novel.

To contact Bernie for interviews or readings, write him directly at blambek@zclpc.com or fill out the contact form. For other information about the book, distribution, etc., contact the publisher at info@rootstockpublishing.com.

Visit Bernie's website: www.bernielambek.com