From the first sentence, I absolutely could not put down We Sinners (Holt, Aug.) until I turned the last page. The saga of a dysfunctional family is not a new subject: numerous authors have tackled it to much critical acclaim, but what separates We Sinners from those novels is distance. It’s easy to hide behind cynicism, satire, and disdain, but Hanna Pylväinen is understated, honest, and, most of all, full of compassion. In the mundane specifics of the Rovaniemis, there are the grand universals of all families: the mistakes, the misunderstandings, the betrayals, and—coloring it all—the inescapable love. Characters who could be painted in grand strokes as villains or angels are small, fragile, and very human. We Sinners brilliantly, unforgettably reconfigures Tolstoy’s adage about happy and unhappy families: “happy and unhappy, every family is.”

Emily Eslami, Book Soup, Los Angeles