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We Sinners: A Novel    by Hanna Pylväinen order for
We Sinners
by Hanna Pylväinen
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

The story of a large family in thrall to a little-known Christian denomination, We Sinners makes for interesting reading. What has come to be known as the Laestadian Lutheran Church was brought to America by Finnish immigrants.

In the Rovaniemi family religious belief is primary to all areas of living, with a constant emphasis on sin, forgiveness and sober living - no alcohol, dancing or television. Each chapter tells the story of a different family member and how he or she reacts to their situation. We learn about the social ostracism that the children especially feel from those not of their belief. As they reach maturity and are able to leave their parents' shelter, they begin to understand even better how their lives are different from others. And there comes a time when they have to make a choice. Especially interesting is the story of the son who is homosexual (since homosexual behavior is considered a sin) and the effect this has on his mother, who is the family's internal and external focal point.

Because the family has been through so much together, they are all very close. This is evident even in the ones who turn away. Though the author's thesis is that the price we must pay for love is here very high, it would have made the work more effective had she worked it a bit more so that we would have the benefit of her views. Nevertheless, there is much material for thought here.

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