The Sinner's Guide to Confession Cover

Title: The Sinner’s Guide to Confession

Author: Phyllis Scheiber

# of Pages: 384

Release Date: 7/1/2008

ISBN: 9780425221532

Rating: 4/5

Barbara, Ellen, and Kaye are longtime friends, yet they all have secrets they are keeping from one another.  Barbara, a widowed mother of three adult children, is hiding the fact that she writes erotica in addition to the romance novels that everyone knows about.  Kaye is hiding the fact that she is in the midst of a great relationship with a man who loves her, makes her feel beautiful, and gives her the best sex of her life – a man other than her faithful husband.  And Ellen, who recently lost her husband to a much younger woman, has kept the secret of a daughter she was forced to give up for adoption at age sixteen from her friends for years.  But when Ellen’s father passes away, she is reunited with the family she despises, and comes to the realization that she needs to find her daughter – the true family she never had.  Only her best friends can help her, and it is in this search that the women reveal more of themselves to one another than they ever had before.

The Sinner’s Guide to Confession is a fantastic book about the power that womens’ friendships can have in each others’ lives.  I am always inclined to read books about groups of women, especially when the topics focus on the friendships between them and how important those friendships are to the women involved.  This novel absolutely fell into that category.  Barbara, Ellen, and Kaye have been friends for a long time and truly depend on one another for comfort and love, yet their friendships are far from perfect.  They can be cruel to one another, they hide things from each other, and they don’t always give each other the support necessary.  Yet, when it came down to it, when Ellen was faced with a real tragedy, Kaye and Barbara did not blink an eye before committing to stand by her for whatever she needed.  

While the women in the novel are a little older than I am (their children are my age), I did relate to them on some level.  My friendships with my girlfriends are an important part of my own life, and I also have a group of women that I’ve been friends with for years.  We don’t keep monumental secrets from one another, and the women in the book were a little harder on each other than my friends and I are, but when we truly need each other, my girlfriends are always there – just as Barbara and Kaye were for Ellen.  I think the characters in this novel may resonate more with women in their 40’s than they did with me, but I still appreciated them and felt for what they were each going through – I just think I may be a little young to fully understand these characters.

Overall, I enjoyed The Sinner’s Guide to Confession.  It is a powerful book about how important friendships can be, and also about how devastating secrets can be to one’s life.  While the themes in the book may be a bit heavy, the writing itself is not, and it was easy to get through and very readable.  I will be watching for more of Scheiber and looking forward to reading more by her.

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