The Sinners' Garden
William Sirls was once a senior vice president in a large investment firm who was charged with wire fraud and money laundering, and then later incarcerated. During his time in prison, he “learned the meaning of faith, grace, and forgiveness.” Sirls entered the publishing world with his first book, THE REASON. Now, he is telling another story dealing with the nitty-gritty harsh realities of life in his newest offering, THE SINNERS’ GARDEN.
Sirls begins his heart-wrenching tale with the harrowing familial abuse scenario that is sadly all too common in households across the country. Fictional character Judi Kemp is wringing her hands because her abusive husband, Todd, is late again. Torn between wanting him to come home and fearing for her safety, Judi keeps looking out the kitchen window waiting for Todd’s headlights to shed light across the yard. With her anxious thoughts racing back and forth, she wonders if her brother Rip is on to Todd’s abusive behavior toward her. She fears he is aware, and maybe that is another reason he is lingering in their barn while he works on his car.
"Sirls entered the publishing world with his first book, THE REASON. Now, he is telling another story dealing with the nitty-gritty harsh realities of life in his newest offering, THE SINNERS’ GARDEN."
Judi’s fears intensify when Todd finally arrives home and walks right past her and into their kitchen. As Judi prepares Todd’s dinner, she drops his plate of food by mistake, and before she realizes it, he digs his fingers into her throat. Judi is just thankful their small son, Andy, is still asleep in the living room. Just when he releases her and she thinks the worst is over, Todd throws the pan of boiling hot water all over Judi’s leg, hitting Andy full in the face as well. Then the real nightmare begins for mother and son.
Fast forward 11 years later. Andy is now a young and very angry teen who believes his abusive father’s lie that Judi intentionally burned him that night so many years ago. Though Todd is now long gone from their lives, Judi still lives a frightened and haunted existence as she second guesses every decision she makes, and continually believes the lie that everything that happened to her and Andy was indeed her fault. Andy’s unwarranted anger toward Judi only serves to reinforce her inner pain and remorse.
Enter their kind neighbor Heather, a local police officer and friend to Judi and Rip. Heather has her own demons to contend with, but serves as a stable and upbeat influence to both Judi and Andy. Rip, who is now free from prison and living as a committed believer in Christ, also tries to mend the wounds left by Todd by being a male parenting figure to Andy. Rip gives his nephew an iPod, and soon after, Andy begins hearing strange music and then prophetically speaking secrets to specific people in town after which he has no recollection of what just happened.
But Andy’s strange iPod isn’t the only curious occurrence in town. Heather is trying to unravel the mystery behind the “Summer Santa” who breaks into people’s homes to give back to them, not steal. When the key players discover a wondrous garden growing out of town, they simultaneously begin asking each other who the mysterious gardener is and what the purpose of it is. Before long, the unusual happenings start weaving into a more cohesive supernatural pattern. Rip, Judi, Andy and Heather all begin to understand that healing can take place in even the most unlikely of hearts and through the most unlikely means.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on December 17, 2013