The Sinners’ Garden-William Sirls

The Sinners’ Garden
William Sirls
Thomas Nelson, Dec 17 2013, $12.99
ISBN: 9781401687380

In Benning Township off the thinnest part of Lake Erie, Andy’s father abused him. The violence left the teenager with visible scarring on his face and even worse inside his soul. He loathes everyone especially his mom Judi who failed to protect her son from his brutal father. Judi holds herself culpable over how messed up her child has become because she failed to intervene when her husband battered their son. Having done time for a crime, Andy’s Uncle Rip also believes he let down his nephew by not confronting the abuser and not being there for the child when he was needed. He vows to rectify his mistake by helping his angry resentful relative heal.

Andy begins hearing strange messages on his iPod that he believes come from God. Meanwhile a “Summer Santa” breaks into homes but does not take anything; instead he drops off gift cards that the occupants desperately can use. Concerned Police Officer Heather Gerisch fails to catch the elusive B&E bandit who breaks the law and she fears sets a bad example with the break-ins even while simultaneously doing good deeds. When a lovely garden mysteriously appears at the closed steel mill, Andy, his mom and uncle believe heaven is sending them the Word that regardless we are his beloved children.

This strong Rust Belt allegory grips the reader with an underlying message of forgiveness and second chance redemption; summed up by true believer Pastor Welsh telling Andy and readers that even when people desert God, the Lord never leaves anyone. With their hurts, flaws and lack of faith, the protagonists seem genuine even in a dying town’s miraculous resurrection of hope.

Harriet Klausner

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