A wise man under divine inspiration once wrote, “You reap what you sow.” This fundamental truth applies, not only to gardening, but to everyday life. If we want to have a good life for ourselves and our children, we have to do good things. If not, bad things will happen. In Jean McKie-Sutton’s, The Fruits of Our Sins, this fact is made very clear through the lives of two women.
The first character we are introduced to is Madeline. We meet her before she is even born. The reader is given a clear picture of what shapes Madeline’s life. She is reared by a doting father and an envious mother. The combination of this parenting causes Madeline to be very confused. She grows up feeling like her mother hates her, but she doesn’t understand the animosity. Madeline loves her mother, Sadie. All she wants is love in return. Sadie is incapable of giving her daughter the love she so desperately longs for.
Second, the life of Sybil unfolds. Again, this mother-daughter relationship is unimaginably tragic. Sybil’s mother, Terri is constantly fighting addictions. Terri is unable to take care of her children. Sybil is left with the responsibility of caring for herself and her brother at a very young age. The traditional roles are reversed. Instead of being nurtured and loved by her mother, Sybil becomes the caregiver for the entire family. She worries constantly about how her mother’s addictions will affect the family’s future. Sybil builds up bitter resentment toward her mother.
As the life story of these women continues to unfold, we see how each one is affected in adulthood by her upbringing. The mothers, Sadie and Terri, see the fruits of their sins in the lives of their daughters. When a child is unloved, feelings of worthlessness set in. Those feelings can last a lifetime and the negativity is passed on to the next generation. It can be a very vicious cycle.
My favorite quote from the book is, “Every woman has a secret. Some harbor their secrets in closets, piling boxes and bags atop to obscure them. Others bury them in the recesses of their minds and go on living as if their secrets have no purpose or merit, no right to thrive. Their secrets are relegated to the land of dreams – dreams never spoken, silenced unto death.” It is this secret that causes the lives of Madeline and Sybil to intersect. In the beginning of the book, the reader is given a glimpse into the future, so we know that these women will meet eventually. However, it is unclear how they will make the encounter. The anticipation gives way to suspense. McKie-Sutton is very skillful in the way she arouses the reader’s curiosity.
If I had to sum this book up with one word, I would say excellent. I really appreciated the dignified manner in which this book was written. While addressing very difficult subjects, McKie-Sutton kept a respectful tone throughout the book. Even though this book causes the reader to think deeply, it is still quite entertaining and enjoyable to read. People of all backgrounds will appreciate reading this book. McKie-Sutton showcases her talent, creativity and brilliance in this novel. I look forward to her next masterpiece.