Book Review: Heartache and Sin by Charles Soto

When diabetic Karen Wheaton learns she is pregnant, she is unable to come to grips with the effects the ripples of life within her will have on her body.  She desperately wants to have a baby---perhaps, even more than she wants to live.  For her husband, Steven, there is no question.  Steven loves his wife, even more than he loves his own life.  He begs Karen to end the pregnancy, even if it means having her leave the pro-life church he attends.

While Steven struggles to save his wife and his marriage, Karen's pastor, Ryan McDonald, convinces her not to terminate the pregnancy, even if it means her death.  As the drama unfolds, Steven and Pastor McDonald will match wits in a trial to save Karen's life or solidify her death.  As provocative as it is shocking, both worlds will crumble, leaving readers to sift through the haunting rubble of an issue that has no easy answers.

At first glance, I thought Heartache and Sin was going to be a Steel Magnolias type of story.  However, it is much more than that.  Heartache and Sin is as different from my usual reads as salt is from sugar.  Charles Soto writes with the most unique style of writing I have ever read.  His writing style took some getting used to---for the first 100 pages I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy the book because I was having trouble adjusting.  I'll quote two passages to show you:

"Back at the compound of The Church of Resurrection, the Pastor's influence continues to grow.  Like a weed corrodes the earth, indulging the sun for its own greedy existence, the Pastor too controls his fate, induling in the same kind of greed that deceit thrives on.  Knowing with all he consumes, these lies that encompass his thoughts will only promise him more power in an already thoughtless mind.  A mind of no conscience in depth with his lure of the meek and their weak-hearted mentality, for his promise of heaven that his hell can never bring, only entraps his disciples further into this oblivious abomination."
"How time can torture those who pursue it, for in the dire consequences of Steven's reflections came the ill-tainted confusions that blanket his soul. Harboring the smothering reminders of how strong the Pastor's influences are. The deep, dark secrets that he holds in his lies, and as Steven craves to set them all free, he can't help but to feel it's all a rapacious cycle that will never end."

See what I mean?  This is the kind of writing that I think intellectual types thrive on.  I can just picture a group of college students sitting at Starbucks drinking coffee and discussing this book.  As I read Heartache and Sin, I found myself wishing I had someone to discuss it with.  It is a very emotional and thought-provoking read. 

Heartache and Sin surprised me.  The plot had some major twists that I didn't expect and I loved the ending.  A perfect Stephenie Meyer-ending would not have suited this book---Charles Soto finishes the book with a totally appropriate and realistic ending.  I don't think I would have been satisfied had it ended any other way.

I thought that the story would focus on Karen (the diabetic) but the main character was Steven. I really liked Steven. I liked the way he thinks and I liked how loyal and steadfast he is. It's not often that I identify with a male protagonist the way I did with Steven.

Heartache and Sin was a challenging read.  I love a challenge, and sometimes I like feeling like I've accomplished something when I finish a book.  Mindless escapism books get old after a while, so this was a good diversion for me. 

Just One Gripe:
The writing, at times, feels as heavy as your grandmother's poundcake.  You will feel like you just finished a SAT review course after reading this one.  But, don't let that stop you from reading---it's worth it.

The Best Thing About This Book:
The plot surprised me, which is a rare and exciting thing.

Appropriate for a younger audience:

Characters:  4/5
Plot:  4/5 
Setting/Imagery:  3/5
Originality:  4/5
Ending:  4/5
Total Score:  19/25

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an impartial review.

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