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We Sinners

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  1,020 Ratings  ·  217 Reviews
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 wi ...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Henry Holt and Co.
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Richard Derus
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: 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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
We Sinners takes a family of nine, heavily embroiled in a severe form of Finnish Lutheranism that sets the children apart from anyone who isn't from the church, and spends about a chapter on each child as they grow up and have their own families.

I realize that to most people, the religion in this family will be startling. It felt very familiar to me - the conversation Brita has with the boy at school about how she can't go to dances? I can't even say how many times I had that as a teenager, and
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We Sinners
Hanna Pylvainen

My" in a nutshell" summary...

A very religious family has tons of issues.  Too many children, not enough money, no TV and some of them are losing faith.  The religion is an odd extreme one.  They are Finnish and have unusual Finnish names and often speak Finnish.  

My thoughts after reading this book...

Wow...and I thought being Catholic and following certain rules was difficult at times.  Reading this book for me was sort of like watching a bit of a train wreck.  Just be
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anne, Chelsea, Gaeta, Jeanette, Sue & ?Mikki?
Recommended to Judy by: Amazon
We Sinners: A Novel is a fictional account of a highly legalistic religious Finnish family, the Rovaniuems. From what I have read, the author draws heavily on her own background. The family consists of the preacher father, disorganized, stressed out mother and 9 children living in a four-bedroom home. I would not say the book is entertaining in a fun way or a humorous way, however, Pylvainen captures the essence of what it is like to live in a legalistic home perfectly. You feel the tension, ina ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
To tell you the truth, lately I’ve felt burned out on Sad Stories. While everyone was raving this summer about Light Between Oceans, I gave it a good-but-not-great rating, and most of that was honestly due to Sad Story Burnout.

I approached We Sinners with approbation. The blurb about the plot (an enormous---nine kids!---family who follow a fundamentalist religion) set off alarms in my head; you just know this is not going to be a happy tale.

It isn’t. But it isn’t just slopped-on, unremitting s
Aug 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
"How come you never talk about it?" He said. "Your church."
"It's just that insanity is so dull. Nothing to say."

Jonas Chan and Uppu Rovaniemi page 154 (paperback/ARC)

I am still processing this book as I write this review.

It is a disjointed story of a disjointed family... a deeply religious family of deep and simple faith.

Some may find Pylvainen's work offensive and offending because it is not a sugar-coat... no, a simplistic view
of faith. It is an honest and revealing look at "a" family of fait
Walter Lee
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Others reviewers tell what it is about. The issue of the book is well expressed by the father speaking to the inquiring teenage, (and I paraphase): We don't have to do any of these things. We live in the grace of the Lord and because of that, we don't want to do the things that the world does. Obviously, members of his family do want the things of the world. Entry into the church is simple confession to a church member and hearing absolution: "You are saved by the grace and blood Jesus Christ." ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fabulous book written by a Mount Holyoke Alumna! Of course this may be a bias review because I too am a MHC Alumna! :0)

Seriously, this book was really good. Such an interesting topic, and Pylvainen does a fabulous job pulling you into her characters world. Each chapter is a different member of the family so it also reads as a compilation of short stories. You get to see how each member of the family feels about their situation and about members of their family.

What I wished for and was disappo
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My two stars is actually quite generous. From the reviews and topic (fictionalized account of a large conservative Christian family and their struggles with faith and family), this book sounded very promising. It was hugely disapointing on so many levels. The chapters are each narrated by one of the family members, as are so many novels these days, which results in a very fragmented story with no real character development. The author also seems to completely gloss over an introduction or conclu ...more
John Pappas
Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Each of the chapters of this debut novel has the power of a tightly coiled short story,and could stand on its own, but the collective cumulation of the chapters creates a narrative that is much more than the sum of its parts. Pylvainen creates a host of distinct and distinctive characters -- members of a large Finnish family who belong to a small sect of Lutheran Christianity -- each with their own struggles and doubts. As they wrestle to find their place in their family structure, their church ...more
Angela Myers
May 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not enjoy this book at all. It was confusing and the author did a bad job of explaining the religion of the main family.

Character Development:_3_/10
World Building:_2_/10
Rating: 1 star
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book bored me.
This portrait of a family was incisive, probing and efficient. At just under 200 pages, this book was delightfully economical, and that added to its power. At its heart is a modern American family with strong ties to their ethnic and cultural roots in Finland, members of a small, conservative movement of Lutherans called Laestadians. Family life is centered around the church, its seasons and its practice at home. It is a simple faith in which members express their belief by confessing their sins ...more
This book is a series of short stories from different times and narrators that are actually a single novel. It took me a few too many chapters to figure that out so I will save you from feeling even a little foolish. You probably read all of those other Goodreads reviews that are really just summaries so you wouldn't have had that problem anyways.

I look forward to talking about this book with someone else that has read it. So go on.

I don't know how to rate this one star-wise. I left the window o
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: debut-novels
This was an intriguing first novel, but I thought it was a little rough around the edges, as if the chapters were not originally envisioned as a whole. I liked how time was marked by the voices of different family members. It created a rich family dynamic--as in, sometimes the people you know best are those you really don't know well at all. As each dealt with his or her faith, family, and the world beyond, they grew, and the other family members were forced to deal with these changes. This was ...more
Trixie Fontaine
Beautifully written, with intimate, mundane familiarity and withOUT didactic melodrama or judgment. Exceptional (because it's so shockingly uncommon to find people talking or writing about growing up immersed in church and having left it, or doubted and stayed, and being able to represent the compelling aspects of practicing religion and/or being part of or isolated to or alienated within a religious community) - which is a big part of what makes me give it the "amazing" five stars.

One of my fav
This book was frustrating for me. I wanted to really love it, but I found the time jumps and characters changes to sporadic for me.

There were a lot of characters to keep up with, and each chapter featured a different child. Not only did each chapter have a different point of view, but the timing between chapters was confusing. It often seemed that so much time had passed that I had no idea what was going on.

The first chapter was really great, and I was optimistic after reading that chapter. Chap
Becky Roper
A short and quite interesting look at a Finnish-American family in Minnesota who belong to a very fundamentalist sect of the Lutheran church. Each chapter is from a different family members's perspective, and there are plenty to choose from (parents and nine children) but the time moves ahead in large jumps also, so it felt a little disjointed. The last chapter was a total mystery to me as it was some historical bit that had little connection to the main story, and if it hadn't been there I woul ...more
Katie Stark
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many question the ending of this book. Up until the last chapter, the book discusses what the religion does or does not do for the family, and what the goals of the church (and it's rules) are for the followers. The last chapter discusses what problems the church is trying to fix in its followings in the 1800's in Finland. It provides a comparison so that readers can see how the religion has changed, how the followers have changed, and how religion changes for those who have immigrated. Think ab ...more
I really enjoyed We Sinners. It's the story of a family in the Midwest, The Rovaniemis, who belong to a deeply deeply traditional Lutheran church and the impact their religion and faith (or lack thereof) has on each family member. The story is told through a series of vignettes; each chapter is centered around one of the 11 family members (mom and dad plus 9 kids) and the book dips in and out of different times in their lives. It's a quiet, lovely book, with fantastic writing and something that ...more
Reading this book was like standing in front of a portrait of the entire Rovaniemi family. Pylvainen pointed out each sibling and told their story. Since she wanted to tell about all nine siblings and she didn’t have much time, (200 pages) she just skimmed the surface. As soon as I was beginning to get a feel for the sibling and where they fit in the family, she moved on to the next sibling. I enjoy books written as intertwining stories, however, there needs to be a connecting narrative. Louise ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely loved this book. The characters were excellent, the plot was excellent, the emotions and problems were real; Hanna Pylvainen created a remarkable debut. I had never had any exposure to the particular religion in this book, but it was very informative without seeming like a textbook. Realistically, this is more like a collection of short stories, each one focusing on a particular member of the strictly religious Finnish-American Rovaniemi family. I wish I had written a review right a ...more
Kseniya Melnik
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. It seemed to me more like a collection of linked stories than a novel -- each chapter focuses on one of the eleven members of the family, so the overall development and temporal arc is not as obvious as in traditional narratives. Although the voices of the female characters do become a little hard to distinguish at times - just because there are so many of them - this book is full of small and big moments of truth. Chapters entitled "Total Loss" and "Rupture" BLEW ME AW ...more
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this illuminating and sympathetic book, the eleven members of the Rovaniemi family cope with an uneasy mix of modern life and conservative religion. The nine children and their parents follow a strict form of Lutheranism (no dancing, no TV, etc.)in present day Michigan. Some embrace the faith and some eventually follow other paths, but most of them have to wrestle with the choices they make. The chapters follow each other sequentially in time, but each has the point of view of a different fam ...more
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2013
I really liked this. I read it cover to cover in one day. Maybe it sputtered a bit near the end, but I thought the characters were wonderful, and the conflicts felt very real. Almost 5 stars. One of my favorite novels I've read recently.
Dec 09, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A Novel? I think not. This books goes from depressing to clinically depressing. The only interesting facet is the Finnish fundamental church that resembles the Amish. Don't waste your time.
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I am such a sucker for a book that features the different perspectives of the characters.She draws you close to each and envelopes you in their world.
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. The only disappointment was the very oddly placed final chapter.
Kortney Jewell
I found this book at my local Dollar Tree. The synopsis on the book described that this family followed a very strict religion that almost sounded like a cult, and I do enjoy a story about a cult. I thought that I would give it a try. I would only be out $1 if was bad, and now I am so glad I only paid $1 for this book. Which is a shame because this book had so much potential to be great.
The book follows a family that is part of a Lutheran church that does not allow you to watch TV, dance,listen
This is a thin novel of less than 200 pages about the Rovaniemi family, a contemporary Laestadian Lutheran family of eleven in Michigan. The last 17 pages of the book is an entirely different Laestadian story that takes place in Europe in 1847. The author, Hanna Pylvainen, stated in an interview that she included that final story to explain the origins of Laestadianism. She felt families like the Rovaniemis should not be ignorant of their own origins, as they usually are, and obviously felt the ...more
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Hanna Pylväinen graduated summa cum laude from Mount Holyoke College and received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she was also a postgraduate Zell Fellow. She is the recipient of residencies at The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and a fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachussetts. She is from suburban Detroit.
More about Hanna Pylväinen...