This stunning debut novel—drawn from the author's own life experience—tells the moving story of a family of eleven in the American Midwest, bound together and torn apart by their faith
The Rovaniemis and their nine children belong to a deeply traditional church (no drinking, no dancing, no TV) in modern-day Michigan. A normal family in many ways, the Rovaniemis struggle with sibling rivalry, parental expectations, and forming their own unique identities in such a large family. But when two of the children venture from the faith, the family fragments and a haunting question emerges: Do we believe for ourselves, or for each other? Each chapter is told from the distinctive point of view of a different Rovaniemi, drawing a nuanced, kaleidoscopic portrait of this unconventional family. The children who reject the church learn that freedom comes at the almost unbearable price of their close family ties, and those who stay struggle daily with the challenges of resisting the temptations of modern culture. With precision and potent detail, We Sinners follows each character on their journey of doubt, self-knowledge, acceptance, and, ultimately, survival.
Pylv inen s debut novel paints a sensitive portrait of a large Christian fundamentalist family in smalltown Michigan and beautifully depicts domestic life through minutiae: the spats between siblings, the mess of so many people living in close quarters, and the concessions a mother makes to her children. Warren and Pirjo Rovaniemi have nine children each with their own growing pains and struggles with faith. The novel spans time and perspective; the family is shown from many angles, the point of view shifting from child to parent to child. The Rovaniemis are bound together by their beliefs and sheer numbers, nesting them in a shared understanding, but aside from religion, there are the usual problems of identity, sibling rivalry, and love. They are forbidden movies, dancing, television, birth control; one daughter, Tina, rebels, but wonders if she is leaving the church for herself or her boyfriend. Brita, the eldest, grapples with the emotional and physical task of raising her own children. The family is polarized when Simon, Tiina, and Julia leave the church, proving that their faith has as much to do with each other as it does with God. Pylv inen treats both parts of the conversation with understanding in simple prose that does not take sides. The story is not so much about religion itself, but about how it unites, separates, and directs each relationship in this family s life.