Monday, February 18, 2013

We Sinners; Hanna Pylväinen

Title: We Sinners
Author: Hanna Pylvainen
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Edition: ARC

Source: amazon vine
Setting: US/Michigan and Finland
Date Completed: February - 2013
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes

Rather extreme religious fundamentalism is ground on which the novel, We Sinners is built. Its a story of the Rovianiemi clan, a large family from Finland (nine siblings), who reside in the US and are members of a called ultra conservative religious sect called: Laestadianism, a branch of the Lutheran Church.  Although the story is a work of fiction, the author was raised in a similar household as this family with its very strict rules.  The norm is, no television, no popular music, no birth control, no alcohol, regular religious practice and hymn singing, conservative dress, no dances, no nail polish, yet, oddly, swearing seems to be commonplace at home.
The story is told through the family members, with individual chapters devoted to each, including the parents Warren and Pirjo.  All of the family members are very close because of the way they were raised, but as they reach maturity, they begin making their own choices about the life they want to lead.  Themes such as identity, sexuality, temptation, love and faith are addressed as the siblings tell their stories. It's a story the demonstrates how religion when taken to extremes has the potential of possibly tearing families apart.
I was enjoying the way the story was told, and I found it particularly touching to see how the children felt about their life and how very different it was from other children. Was their some validity to what their peers said about the children being brainwashed One negative to me was  with final two chapters, where the story takes an unusual turn back to the 1840's and back to Finland.  There was also an outsider's view on the children which I think would have been better served if it was omitted.  All in all I was glad I read this one, but not sure every reader would feel the same.


  1. I have trouble reading stories about the imposition of rules like this - it makes me too mad!

  2. Agree with the above but this is the way of the world. you get this everywhere.

  3. Even with those final two chapters, this book sounds good to me. For some reason, I'm fascinated with cults/sects.

  4. I don't care for books centering around religion. I usually feel as if the author is trying to push religion down my throat. This one sounds a bit odd too. Not sure it's for me.

  5. There's alot about this book thjat interests me. I find extremely conservative religious groups like the one here fascinating, possibly because it;;s difficult for me to fathom living that way! I like that the story is told from each family member's point of view and the reader sees them grow from children to adults when changes always happen. Those last 2 chapters sound a bit of odd but many endings are.
    I'm going to investigae this book more, thank you Diane!

  6. I've been meaning to get to this one for awhile now. I'm intrigued by fundamental religious novels. I'm glad to know of the choices at the end before reading it though.

  7. There seems to be so many layers to this story. It might be one that I would read but not entirely sure. I love your reviews!

  8. I'm glad to hear that you recommend this novel overall; I received as an ARC but haven't yet read it. The novels which center on faith always interest me, because I grew up on a very faith-centered home (no swearing allowed!) for which I'm very grateful. It seems, though, that some homes misinterpret rules (my opinion) or go too strongly in one direction thereby missing the whole point which is to love Him first and foremost.

  9. Ah the beauty of blogs - I never would have found this book on my own; in fact, might well have passed on it if I did. But definitely sounds like one I would like and will be looking for.

  10. Hm. I have this one on my shelf, waiting. I keep telling myself it's so short that there's no excuse to not read it!

  11. Having been raised in an extremely conservative religious family, this novel sounds fascinating- thanks for bringing it to my attention!


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