Every Saint a Sinner

Fiction - Religious Theme
266 Pages
Reviewed on 09/22/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Every Saint a Sinner by Pearl Solas is a bittersweet story that defies and sometimes horrifies the imagination and yet captures the reader in its overall themes of love and forgiveness. When lawyer Veronica Matthews’ twelve-year-old son is raped by a Catholic priest at his exclusive school, she begins a crusade not just against Paul Pena, the priest, but against the very institution itself and the leaders who had for years tacitly endorsed their cleric’s behavior by refusing to act and covering up the abuse. In many cases, priests were just disciplined and then moved to another parish where their deviant behaviors could continue. Although Pena is sentenced to a long prison term he still maintains his arrogance and belief that the many sexual encounters he had forced were, in fact, consensual. Conversely, Father Frank Muncy has hidden a deep, dark secret for most of his life: he is sexually attracted to children. Determined to overcome this attraction and serve the Lord, he deliberately avoided all contact with children and concentrated on areas of service helping adults, especially those suffering from depression. He is a beloved priest but when he is convicted of possessing child pornography, he also is sentenced to prison. Paul Pena and Frank Muncy will both meet their destinies in incarceration but it will be a very different journey for them.

Every Saint a Sinner is a powerful and at times harrowing read but its overall theme shines through and overshadows the darkness and the sordidness of the narrative. Pearl Solas has beautifully woven together a story of competing realities that challenge the mind and make readers think deeply. Although the subject matter of the story can be disturbing, the realities of sexual abuse within the church are well known and this author, through her crusading character of Veronica Matthews, is prepared to meet them head-on. It is important to understand that this is not a book about religion but one in which the church is used as a background to discuss what most of us would consider the most heinous crime of all - that of child abuse. What the author does extraordinarily well is to show the readers that there is the ability for redemption in even the seemingly most awful acts and that forgiveness ultimately has little to do with assuaging the perpetrator’s guilt but much more to do with mitigating the victim’s pain. I particularly enjoyed the debate about Father Muncy qualifying for approval and praise given his honest and stated predilection for sexual contact with children. I also appreciated that the author used the opportunity of this narrative to clearly outline and explain the different types of pedophilia and the underlying motivations of people who undertake these activities. This made the understanding of the psyche of these deviant characters clearer. This is a powerful piece of prose, although difficult to read at times, but one that leaves the reader uplifted and positive, which for me, is an indication of a well-written story and one that I can highly recommend.