Even in her romances, Rivers (Redeeming Love, LJ 11/1/97) tackles some difficult issues, so this story of a family and a community in turmoil is different from her other books only in that it lacks a love interest. Ten-year-old Cadi's grief over her beloved grandmother‘the only person who seemed to love her unconditionally‘is compounded by a previous family tragedy for which she believes her family blames her. While at her grandmother's grave, Cadi sees the "sin eater," a human who absolves the residents of the tiny Smoky Mountain community of their sins. Somehow Cadi, touchingly portrayed by Rivers, comes to realize that the sin eater is false and learns of Jesus, and her conversion to Christianity leads to a reconciliation with her family. Rivers delivers both a powerful message about Christian beliefs and the need for forgiveness of sins and an evocative portrayal of life in the 1850s. Highly recommended.