Verdict: SINS OF THE FATHERS ultimately comes to be about something far more remarkable: how a woman transformed her life from one of tragedy and abuse to one of hope and optimism.
As a high school girl in Jamaica, Denise L. Buchanan was seduced by a Catholic priest, who subsequently impregnated her against her will and then paid for her abortion. Thirty years later, her struggle to come to terms with her anger, despair, and series of broken personal relationships motivates her to fly back to Jamaica from Los Angeles and confront her abuser. She discovers that the story of her life, which includes one failed marriage, a stalled-out career in landscape architecture and cash-hungry participation in a clinical trail in the depths of the Great Recession is not necessarily the result of the abuse, but rather of her outlook. By letting go of pain, anger, and fear, Denise transcends her traumatic experiences with men and connects with the love inside of her.
SINS OF THE FATHERS has a peculiar structure. Although the book begins with the commanding authority of a deeply researched investigative essay, it quickly expands to incorporate poems by the author, as well as a more traditional personal narrative. Without question, the personal narrative section of the book is the most gripping and deeply felt. The investigative essay section is dry and blunt, while the poems are relatively artless. However, the narrative is deeply moving, and the author’s pain and ultimate redemption shine through effortlessly in this section.
The choice to frame the narrative in terms of the sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic Church is a bold one in terms of newsworthiness, but doesn’t necessarily serve the larger narrative of the book, which ultimately comes to be about something far more remarkable: how a woman transformed her life from one of tragedy and abuse to one of hope and optimism.
Reviewed by Julia Lai for IndieReader.