Synopsis:The young heroine in Sinners and the Sea is destined for greatness. Known only as “wife” in the Bible and cursed with a birthmark that many think is the brand of a demon, this unnamed woman lives anew through Rebecca Kanner. The author gives this virtuous woman the perfect voice to make one of the Old Testament’s stories come alive like never before.
Desperate to keep her safe, the woman’s father gives her to the righteous Noah, who weds her and takes her to the town of Sorum, a haven for outcasts. Alone in her new life, Noah’s wife gives him three sons. But living in this wicked and perverse town with an aloof husband who speaks more to God than to her takes its toll. She tries to make friends with the violent and dissolute people of Sorum while raising a brood that, despite its pious upbringing, develops some sinful tendencies of its own. While Noah carries out the Lord’s commands, she tries to hide her mark and her shame as she weathers the scorn and taunts of the townspeople.
But these trials are nothing compared to what awaits her after God tells her husband that a flood is coming—and that Noah and his family must build an ark so that they alone can repopulate the world. As the floodwaters draw near, she grows in courage and honor, and when the water finally recedes, she emerges whole, displaying once and for all the indomitable strength of women. Drawing on the biblical narrative and Jewish mythology, Sinners and the Sea is a beautifully written account of the antediluvian world told in cinematic detail.
My Take: Sinners and the Sea is a compelling story about many things--many more things than just a retelling of Noah and the Ark. Because, honestly, this isn't simply the Biblical story that you might have grown up with...and it doesn't matter that it's not. At its heart, Sinners and the Sea is about identity-- what it is about us that makes us who we are and carries us where we need to go. Noah's wife, who remains unnamed until the final page of the novel, struggles with the fact that she has no name of her own save those that tie her to others (daughter, Noah's wife, mother, grandmother) and wonders "If Noah and my sons die...who will I be?" Her story, her journey, is all about discovering who she really is regardless of what others call her. Her story shows us that while we may see imperfections, disabilities, or disfigurements as obstacles, perhaps it is those very things that allows us to be who we ought to be, to go where we ought to go, and take others with us.
Beautifully written. Kanner evokes Biblical times with realistic touches and is utterly convincing in recounting the horror with which our unnamed heroine watches humanity pulled down by the mighty waters. Her characters are well-drawn and completely believable...although not always likeable. But, then, not all people are likeable. She effectively represents the good and the bad in all humanity--even the righteous who are spared the flood. ★★★★ and 1/2 stars.
[Disclaimer: My review policy is posted on my blog, but just to reiterate....The book was offered to me for impartial review and I have received no payment of any kind. All comments are entirely my own honest opinion.]
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About the AuthorSinners and the Sea is Rebecca Kanner’s debut novel. Rebecca is a Twin Cities native and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction Writing from Washington University in St. Louis. Her writing has won an Associated Writing Programs Award, a Loft mentorship Award and a 2012/2013 Minnesota State Arts Board Grant. Her personal essay, “Safety,” is listed as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2011. Her stories have been published in numerous journals including The Kenyon Review and The
You can learn more about Rebecca, and find links to selected stories and essays, at www.rebeccakanner.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Remaining Virtual Book Tour ScheduleFriday, May 23
Review at Seaside Book Corner
Tuesday, May 27
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, May 29
Review at bookworm2bookworm’s Blog