Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Review: "We Sinners" by Hanna Pylvainen
As much as I love new writers, and have a bit of self-serving pride in the fact that I am drawn more towards new writers I haven’t read than ones that I have, sometimes, they do not really offer very much, which is the case with We Sinners, the debut novel of Hanna Pylvainen. It is a weird case in actuality. While on the surface, just by reading the descriptions on the back, you’d think it would be a derivative piece, harking back to many immigrant stories and novels that came before it. But it really isn’t that. Not once was I thinking of another writer while reading this, which might be a back-handed compliment. It just doesn’t really feel like anything, even though the themes, which aren’t new, are looked at in a different way. The book, having finished it only a few minutes ago as I write this, just kind of left me feeling empty. It is less a novel than a series of vignettes about a large eleven person family who belong to a strict religious doctrine, where pretty much anything fun is forbidden, from the obvious, such as sex and drugs, to more constricting laws limiting how you interact with someone who is not of their faith. We watch as the children grow some rebel against their faith and want to live their own lives while some stick within the tight-knit community the religion provides. Those that stay are filled with regret, but those that leave are thrown into a world where they were not provided with the skills to survive, and hurt themselves and sometimes others. As I said, this book has very little lasting value, not so much boring as painfully inept at grasping at anything that might make me want to find out what happens to these kids. It is a short novel, about 189 pages, and could be read in a sitting, but don’t feel guilty if you pass it up for longer, challenging and more rewarding books.