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[Review] The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls

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William Sirls The Sinners' Garden
Title: The Sinners' Garden
Author: William Sirls
Publisher: Thomas Nelson December 17, 2013
Genre: Fiction, Faith, Prophecy
Format: Paperback
Pages: 416
Rating: 4 Stars for very good
Source: Free copy from Thomas Nelson and Litfuse Publicity Group, in exchange for a review. 

Judi and her teenage son Andy, live under quiet and tense circumstances. Andy is withdrawn, more than most teenage boys, and Judi is unable to connect with him. Andy has scars on his face, which he has been given false information about how it occurred. Judi's brother Rip, spent several years in prison, but is now free. He lives nearby, and he has a "new life" as a believer in God. Rip wants to be a father-type figure to Andy. The two have things in common, like motorcycles and going fast. One day while Rip and Andy are out riding they come across a field of blooming flowers. The field had been grass a few days before. A family friend Heather, is out on police patrol, when she encounters what she thinks is a robbery; instead, it is person who will become known as the "Summer Santa". Strange and amazing things begin to happen in the town of Benning Township, Michigan.  

My Thoughts:
What I'm about to say may come across as cynical and I don't mean to offend, but I am so tired of the same old story lines in (most) Christian fiction.
1. Boy meets girl.
2. Girl meets boy.
3. Christian themes of faith, redemption, etc., are given so the book will have a Christian message. 
4. There is a problem with the relationship, a resolve, and then everything is fine and tidy at the end. 
I'm rejoicing, The Sinners' Garden is a story which has not been told in this fashion until now. The emphasis is in the message, not a romance. The message is subtle, but I did not have a problem finding it. Themes of faith, redemption, etc., are included, but not overtly so. What I mean is we are not "told", we are shown, a remarkable difference.
Andy has been given a gift, which is unexpected and gives the story an added mystery. 
The large field of flowers is providential and symbolic. 
The only point which held me back from giving this book 5 stars is I would like to see more character development. More of the characters psyche. An evil menacing character doesn't need an introduction, we know he or she is evil because of their aura, or description, or hardness in the eyes, etc.

William Sirls is a new author with an interesting past. I'm thankful he has come forward to share the story of his life, and to share a new kind of story in Christian fiction. 

Link at Thomas Nelson, includes a preview.
Link for tour:

William Sirls

Over the course of his life, he has experienced both great highs and tremendous lows — some born of chance, some born of choice. Growing up in Detroit, MI, the youngest of six children, William Sirls was active in sports and had an active imagination. While he aspired to become either a professional golfer or attorney, he realized he didn’t have the talent or the grades for either of those careers, so he shifted gears and went in another direction.
Years before the publication of his first novel, he worked 60 hour weeks as a senior vice president at one of the nation’s largest investment firms, somehow finding time to read three to four books per week and to rough out ideas for different stories of his own. Sirls was forced to slow down and refocus when he was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering. While in prison, he learned a great deal more than he ever bargained for — life lessons involving faith, grace, patience, and forgiveness. These lessons are evident in both Sirls’ first novel, The Reason (2012) and his new release The Sinners’ Garden releasing in December 2013.
“Prison is one of those things I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but at the same time there are few things I would trade that experience for … From a spiritual standpoint, it gave me the opportunity to slow down and realize what is important. As my faith grew, I became anxious to share the things I learned, so I figured what better way to do that than to rewrite my manuscript in a way that was a lot less magical and a lot more spiritual.”
Sirls is the father of two and makes his home in southern Michigan.
For more information about William Sirls and his books, visit his online home at, become a fan on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter (@williamsirls).


William Sirls said…
I appreciate the kind words, Annette! Thank you so much!