“My heart ached within me, ached for something I could not define. Looking into her eyes, I believed she knew what it was I long to have, and if I but trusted her, she would show me the path to finding it. I thought the sin eater was the key,” Cadi ponders in Francine Rivers’s novel, The Last Sin Eater. At three hundred and thirty-two pages, this soft cover book by best-selling author Rivers is an allegory about choosing between eternal damnation and salvation. With no profanity but topics that involve everlasting decisions, personal sins and incidences of murder and violence, it may be targeted toward mature young adults or older individuals yearning to know God more deeply. This reader wishes all pronouns of Deity were capitalized for reverence. Written in first person, inquisitive Cadi is only ten years old. Living in the lush, beautiful, highland valley of the Great Smokey Mountains in the nineteenth century, she knows no other way of life except that brought down from her Welsh and Scottish family and neighbors’ generations. Ways of life that include the belief that after one’s death, the sin eater will come and carry away the burden of all sin so the deceased will be allowed into Heaven. However, no one knows or is to look directly in the eyes of the sin eater when he comes, or they too will suffer the consequences. When Cadi’s dearly loved Granny passes away, the child steals one solo, simple glance at the feared icon that changes her tender and curious heart, making her question why and how the sin eater can bear all sinful burdens throughout the years yet still live. Especially if she wants him to purge her of her own deep, dark sins that she feels could never be forgiven. Through her sorrow she finds a new-found friend that challenges her conscience to seek out the sin eater. With the help of a strong-willed boy whose father is the clan’s fierce leader, an old lady who fears her own demise and a long-forgotten emotionally scarred woman, Cadi is captivated when an unusual man of God comes to the edge of the valley quoting Scriptures, challenging the locals’ viewpoint on death and the after-life. With the simple plan of eternal salvation that the ten year old explains effortlessly, the tome emphasizes that life is in God’s hands and we too face trials, tribulations and heartbreak even though we are God’s children for eternity. This gentle, compassionate yet sorrowful tale weaved against a beautiful landscape is an exceptional way to promote Jesus as the One Who not only forgives but forgets our sins. This book was received by Tyndale for review purposes.
This book comes to us in a simple story that speaks to every generation in every place. It presents the story of a ten year old girl grappling with the weight of what happens to the sin in which everyone finds themselves tangled. This book exposes the lies we, and the people of this community have believed for years. This would be a good book to give to a friend that needs to understand the truth of sin, guilt and redemption. This is one of my favorite books I have ever read.