In the small Lake Erie township of Benning, someone is at work cultivating a supernatural garden …
Andy Kemp’s young life has been as ravaged as his scarred face. Disfigured by an abusive father, the teenager hides behind his books and an impenetrable wall of cynicism and anger.
As Andy’s mother struggles to reconnect with him, his Uncle Rip returns transformed from a stint in prison and wants to be a mentor to the reclusive boy, doing everything he can to help end Andy’s pain. When Andy begins hearing strange music through his iPod and making near-prophetic announcements, Rip is convinced that what Andy is hearing is the voice of God.
Elsewhere, police officer Heather Gerisch responds to a late-night breaking and entering in one of the poorest homes in town. She soon realizes that the masked prowler has left thousands of dollars in gift cards from a local grocery store.
As the bizarre break-ins continue and Heather pursues the elusive “Summer Santa,” Andy and Rip discover an enormous and well-kept garden of wildflowers that seems to have grown overnight at an abandoned steel mill.
Soon, they realize who the gardener is, and a spree of miracles transfigures this small town from a place of hopelessness into a place of healing and beauty.
How do you follow an incredible debut novel like The Reason? If you recall, that’s the title William Sirls had decided to self-publish via Thomas Nelson’s WestBow Press. The reader feedback on it was so great however, that Thomas Nelson signed Sirls and his book. Now, second titles can be notoriously hit or miss especially when the first has been so successful. I’m happy to report that The Sinners’ Garden is definitely a hit. I loved this book. Except for one scene which caused me to cry. A lot. It was on a subject that is guaranteed to make me emotional, which is rather silly of me I suppose but that’s who I am. I’ve quit books before over this particular touchy thing, but I HAD to know the identity of the Summer Santa. I HAD to know how the book ended. So, after a brief pause and some Kleenex usage, I continued reading and tried not to look back.
Sirls has a remarkable ability. He writes books that you’ll think about after you’ve finished reading. He makes you think while you’re reading as you try to work everything out from the clues he drops like breadcrumbs. Is it really a coincidence that an iPod stops working around the same time as a garden appears where no garden should? The characters aren’t perfect. They’re all flawed, even the dog. You’ll like or dislike the humans for they are us. We are the sinners for whom the garden is meant. Finally, the ending serves to remind us that God is never done revealing His awesome power.
Have you read The Sinners’ Garden? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 17 December 2013
Page Count: 416