Sin & Contrition

How do we navigate our path in life? What factors of circumstance and fate shape who we are? How do we cope with the mistakes we make?

Sin and Contrition follows the lives of six teenagers, classmates from different backgrounds, from the age of thirteen to sixty-two. This captivating novel charts the varied journey of three boys, Gary, LaMarr, and Gene; and three girls, Ellen, Bettina, and Josie, as they make life-changing decisions, sometimes casually, at other times carefully. Transgressions are set against a backdrop of religious and secular moral debate.

Fascinating and highly entertaining, Sin and Contrition is a candid portrait of human vulnerability. It will provoke thoughtful and unique, personal insights.

Author William Peace has crafted a unique saga, populated with unforgettable characters. The reader will discover an extraordinary literary experience within its pages.


The book follows the lives of three teenage boys and three teenage girls from age thirteen to age sixty-two.  The six characters are classmates but from different backgrounds.  Their various transgressions, and their reactions to the consequences of them are revealed.  The action takes place against a backdrop of religious and secular moral debate.  The reader is drawn into the debate, but is free to draw his/her own conclusions.

Gary, from a low-income, broken family, Gene whose parents are wealthy, and LaMarr, who is black, are long-standing friends.  At age thirteen, they decide to try out their new slingshots by shooting marbles out of the woods onto an unseen road below.  One of their marbles strikes a young girl, injuring her.

Bettina, from an immigrant family, Ellen from a well-to-do family, and Josie, who is middle-class, but from the ‘wrong side of town’ are also thirteen, and friends.  Bettina is captivated by a fancy set of underwear which Ellen’s older sister has purchased.  She decides to shop lift a set for herself.

The three boys, led by Gary, bully a new Chinese classmate.

The boys engage in individual and collective sexual experimentation.  The girls learn about their sexuality.

On the playing field and in the classroom, there is cheating going on.

Ellen is very flattered by the attentions of Gene’s older brother, Rick, but when he presses her for sex, she drops him, and falls in love with Gene.  Failed contraception results in her pregnancy at age seventeen, and an abortion.

LaMarr decides to join the Marine Corps; his buddy, Mason, is killed in a fire fight in Viet Nam.

Rick spreads false rumours to break up the Ellen-Gene love story.  Gene retaliates with rumours about his brother.  Gary uses a rumour to gain advantage over a competitor for a coveted position.

Bettina fails to listen to her brother’s advice regarding ill-conceived business ventures.  Gary ignores the warnings of his roommate regarding a predatory woman.

Ellen and Gene spoil their children, while Bettina and Jeffrey fail to nurture theirs, with mixed results as their children mature.

Gary marries, and then commits adultery with a female colleague in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  Josie is seduced by a married doctor at the hospital where she works as a nurse.

Ellen, a high-flying New York fashion designer, becomes addicted to cocaine, and Gary, depressed about the departure of his wife, becomes an alcoholic.

Various tax evasion schemes are designed and implemented by Gene, Ellen, Gary, Bettina, and LaMarr.

The failing health of aging parents is addressed poorly or successfully by Gary, LaMarr, Gene, and Bettina.

The religious convictions of all six – from devout to outright atheist – are explored.

The book concludes with individual interviews of the six.  These interviews reveal their views on their lives as they have led them – to age sixty-two.

There is a final interview with a (fictional) senior theologian on the issues surrounding sin and forgiveness.

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