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A Land Without Sin

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4.07  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  14 reviews
As revolutionary forces gather in the Lacandon jungle of southern Mexico in the fall of 1993, an idealistic American priest vanishes from his post in San Cristobal de Las Casas. The church, immersed in trying to negotiate a peaceful solution to the escalating conflict between wealthy landowners and poverty-stricken indigenas, remains strangely silent in the face of his dis ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Slant
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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Julie Davis
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it

"Jan," I asked casually, "is this one of the glyphs that has been translated?"

He paused over the tripod, as though considering whether or not this information might ruin me as an accomplice, then said, "It has."

"What does it mean?"

He paused again, this time looking at Rikki, who was clearly dying for me to know, then gave an exasperated sigh. "It has several meanings. It is a very common glyph--you find it almost everywhere, including in some month names, some god names, and in a lot of the icon
...more
Hannah Notess
Dec 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: seattle
Wow, I loved this book. I recommend it for fans of Ann Patchett's State of Wonder or Mischa Berlinski's Fieldwork or novels by Barbara Kingsolver. I loved every single one of the characters and the many ways that Huston made me love them.

The narrator, Eva, is appealingly hard-headed and practical with a dose of spiritual angst. She goes to Mexico looking for her brother, Stephan, a rebellious priest who is heavy into Rene Girard's theories, and gets connected with a family of awkward archaeolog
...more
Nicki Elson
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
The atmosphere of this story is beautifully rich, as is the Maya history and lore. Despite the exotic location and the rising threat of war, A Land Without Sin moves at a leisurely pace. The story is more about Eva’s internal discoveries than the external circumstances. The reader is first immersed in the jungle and anthropological fieldwork, which appealed to the archaeological nerd in me. Huston’s vivid description puts the reader right into the dark tombs. Next we move on to the domestic sett ...more
Sarah
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-list
I didn’t expect to read A Land Without Sin in a weekend, so be warned. This is a well-crafted and very compelling novel.

The storyline is pretty basic, when I think about it: main character Eva is trying to find her missing brother Stefan. It involves a journey through Central America, some flirting with politics at a level I'm pretty sure I just don't appreciate, and examination of faith and relationships.
There are some characters in this novel that I'd like to meet in real life, which is a test
...more
Kendall
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One reviewer said of Paula Huston's novel A Land Without Sin, This is what a Christian novel should look like. Although I understand the sentiment. I'm not sure it really is a Christian novel. For sure it includes both Christians and atheists but it treats both with respect. There's profanity where real people are likely to use it and frank, though not graphic, concerns with sexuality. It's also about love in relationships; how it builds and how it can be damaged in spite of the best of intentio ...more
Adele
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Paula Huston’s novel A Land Without Sin is a gripping spiritual journey set in Mexico in 1993 amid escalating civil conflict. Eva, a seasoned American photojournalist, treks through jungle caves and guerilla territories in search of her missing brother. Eva loves Stephen dearly, but she is unsettled by his deep Christian faith and by hints of family secrets he has withheld.

In a brilliant move, Huston gives her reader immediate access to Stephen by interspersing Eva’s first-person narration with
...more
David
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found this a compelling story about family, community, connections, good and evil, bravery and cowardice, and about religion in a strange way. One catholic priest in the story suggests that Christians dont understand the message of the Jesus story; that any God who would sacrafice his own son to benefit others is not a god of justice. I strongly reccomend this book. It was of the ones that I found difficult to put down and ended up reading over a couple of days.
Joseph Schickel
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Eva and Stefan Kovic are the only children in a tragedy-riddled, blue-collar, Catholic immigrant family growing up on Chicago’s south side during the 1960’s. Both flee the nest at the first opportunity — with good reason. Both have strong, if fundamentally different, survival instincts. She wants to save her ass while he wants to save his soul. The two sibs are smart and intensely loyal to the other. Each considers the other, his or her only living family.

Separately, Stefan and Eva trot the glo
...more
Allen Roth
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A fast paced always interesting adventure story that takes the reader on a trip through the jungles of South America with a side glimpse at Chicago. This character centered novel is always believable and entertaining. An added bonus is the locations the charters visit. Along the way, Huston does a superb job introducing the reader to the archaeological history of the lost Mayan cultures. Huston never fails to meet the challenge of keeping the reader engaged. As someone who has repeatedly been di ...more
John
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
A fascinating novel set in Guatemala and Chiapas in the early nineties. In many ways it's a story of multiple "conversions." It's also influenced by the thought of René Girard.
Some aspects at the end of the novel were a little too predictable. I would have liked to see more development of the plot in San Cristobal and Lacondon as well as of the character of Stefan.
It is delightful - though not emotionally easy.
Jonathan Hiskes
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A world-weary war photographer heads to the Chiapan jungle to search for her missing brother, taking a job for cover as an assistant to an archaeologist of Mayan temples. The novel probes the cultural theories of Rene Girard (scapegoating innocent victims binds a culture together and acquires a veneer of sacred approval ...), revealing fascinating parallels between modern and ancient societies -- and not just the Mayans. "Ideas" novels can be risky. Here, the ambition pays off.
Cheryl
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't have anything more clever to say than the other reviewers here who've gone before me. I appreciated many of the same things in this book as they did. The characters are worth the time it takes to get to know them.
Jeri Hodgin
Feb 15, 2014 rated it liked it
the story of a photojournalist, alienated from her Catholic upbringing, searching for her brother, a priest, in the jungles of southern Mexico in 1993, a time of rebellion in that area.
This is well written, a good story mixed with an exploration of religion, spirituality and evil.
J. Bill
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A powerful, wonderful book. It's a good story that could've been done ala Clive Cussler, et al, but wasn't. It's much more Graham Green -- thoughtful, literate, searching. I'll say more on my blog (holyordinary.blogspot.com) soon -- and Paula is going to do a guest post there, too.
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