You Gotta Sin to Get Saved

( 13 )


Charlotte Rodgers has always wanted too much. Too much love, too much attention, and had too many big dreams. It was how she ended up abandoning her two daughters, Connie and Reesy to chase after a man and the promise of a dream life. But Charlotte never anticipated how her world would be irrevocably changed. Now, twenty-seven years later, her whole world shifts yet again with a letter from one of her daughters. And the past is about to bust wide open.

Reesy has always been ...

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Charlotte Rodgers has always wanted too much. Too much love, too much attention, and had too many big dreams. It was how she ended up abandoning her two daughters, Connie and Reesy to chase after a man and the promise of a dream life. But Charlotte never anticipated how her world would be irrevocably changed. Now, twenty-seven years later, her whole world shifts yet again with a letter from one of her daughters. And the past is about to bust wide open.

Reesy has always been obsessed with something. Obsessed with finding her birth mother. Obsessed with her sister’s life. Obsessed with her own adopted daughter never finding out that Reesy is really her aunt. With a neglected husband, who is unknowingly drifting further and further away, a sister who is trying to escape her well-meaning clutches, and a daughter becoming more and more curious about her true parentage, finding the mother she always dreamed about seems to be an answered prayer to Reesy. That is until Reesy is brought crashing back to earth to find that her perfect life is in tattered pieces.

Connie has always expected too little. Too little from the man she’s been living with for years. Too little from her modest jewelry business. And too little from her relationships, or lack thereof, with her daughter, mother and sister. And too little from herself. Until she discovers she is pregnant again and decides that this time she is keeping her baby, sending her life and her relationship into a tailspin. And rediscovering the mother who left them behind is the last thing she wants.

Thrown back together again, in a maelstrom of shocking truths, Charlotte, Reesy and Connie will discover on their journey to forgiveness and redemption that you just might have to sin first in order to be saved.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"gripping and enthralling" — EKG Literary Magazine


"YOU GOTTA SIN TO GET SAVED is an excellent read that can garner much discussion about familial and societal ills that shape our being." —RAWSISTAZ Reviews


"emotionally charged and insightful" —Urban-Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312545154
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/14/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,204,385
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

J.D. MASON is the author of This Fire Down In My Soul, And On The Eighth Day She Rested, One Day I Saw A Black King, and Don’t Want No Sugar. She lives in Colorado with her two children and is currently working on her next novel.

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Read an Excerpt

You Gotta Sin to Get Saved
By Mason, J. D. St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2008 Mason, J. D.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312326586

Chapter 1
The mail was late today. Charlotte glared irritably at the back of the mail truck pulling away from her curb. The snow came up to her ankles, filling her slippers and dampening her socks, but Charlotte paid no attention. She pulled her housecoat close around her, picked up her mail, then headed back inside the house.
“I get anything, Momma?” her daughter, Cammy, asked, timidly peeking her head from the front door.
Charlotte ignored her and brushed past her on the way in. She flipped through the phone bill, sales papers, the car note, until finally she came to something she hadn’t expected. It was a letter, and the return address on the outside of the envelope read Denver, Colorado. Charlotte dropped the rest of the mail on the floor and stood frozen in the middle of the living room.
“Momma?” Cammy bent down to pick up the mail. “What is it?”
Charlotte fingered the envelope in disbelief. Denver, Colorado, was the place she’d come from. She’d been born there and, growing up, she dreaded she’d die there. It was the place she had left behind, and the one place she could never seem to get back to, no matter how hard she tried, and how badly she wanted to. But who in the world would be writing her from—
Charlotte sat down in her recliner, then slowly peeledthe seal open, pulled out the letter, and unfolded it.
Cammy sat down on the floor next to her. “Who’s it from?”
To Whom It May Concern:
I pray that this letter find its way into the hands of Charlotte Rodgers. My name is Clarice Braxton. I was adopted when I was nine by a wonderful couple with the last name of Turner, but before that, my last name was Rodgers, and my birth mother nicknamed me Reesy. I say all of this because I’ve never been certain that you would remember my name, or me, for that matter. It’s a fear I’ve had ever since you left, when I was only eight-years-old.
Tears pooled in Charlotte’s eyes as she read the letter, and Charlotte took a deep breath and held it for a moment. Emotions tumbled over each other; panic, then joy, and finally heartache. She’d almost forgotten and let go the memories of her two oldest daughters. Charlotte had almost given up on her baby girls. So much had happened to her through the years. Memories dirty and foul had changed Charlotte into a different woman, too afraid to recall the many lives she’d lived until now.
I’ve spent a lot of money searching for you, Momma, but to me it’s all been worth the time and the money because in finding you, I’m hoping to fill in the missing pieces of my life, and maybe even find the closure I desperately need to move forward, once and for all. For the last twenty-seven years the first thought I have when I wake up in the morning is “Why did she leave us?”, and it’s the last question I ask myself before I finally fall asleep at night. As a mother myself now, I can’t fathom the thought of ever walking out of my children’s lives without a trace, and so, I can’t help but to wonder what was happening in your life back then, to make you leave me and Connie.
“Leave them?” She startled herself when she said it out loud. “No,” Charlotte covered her mouth with her hand. “I didn’t—it wasn’t like that.” Charlotte choked back tears. She closed her eyes and tried to remember that day.
“I’ve got to go.”
She told them that, but what else did she say? She made a promise to come back. She had to have made that promise, because Charlotte wouldn’t have just left them without telling them that. “Noooo,” she said out loud, pushing aside the truth. The girl had it all wrong, she thought frantically. Charlotte did leave them, but she never meant to be gone so long.
“Momma?” Camille, her youngest daughter, reached out to her mother. “Momma? What is it? What’s wrong?”
Charlotte swallowed and turned her attention back to the letter.
I managed to find my sister Connie almost eight years ago. She and I were separated not long after you left, and well, Connie had it so much harder than I did. In many ways, she’s still suffering from the hardship of your leaving. Connie wasn’t as fortunate as me, and she suffered terribly growing up. But if it gives you any solace, if you’ve ever wondered, we are both fine now. I haven’t told her yet that I’ve found you. I’m not really sure how she’ll take the news. In some ways I believe Connie took your leaving harder than she’ll ever admit. She’s too proud, and that’s sometimes her downfall.
Of course, we’ll be coming to Murphy to see you, Momma. I can’t say when exactly. That’ll depend on when Connie and I can decide on a time and when we can both get away. We need to finally see your face, and to look into your eyes, and find the answers from you that we both deserve. It’s time to put the heartache and disappointment to rest. Let us have this visit to close the door, once and for all, on the childhoods we lost when you left us.  Reesy
Charlotte clutched the letter possessively to her bosom, and rocked her swollen frame back and forth in the chair. She pressed her lips together and cried quietly. A letter that started with so much promise ended in blame and disappointment. Charlotte was so young back then, and what happened to those children wasn’t her fault. If they knew what she’d been through since the last time she saw them, they wouldn’t point the finger at her. Reesy wrote that letter as if she’d forgotten who her mother was, and how much she’d adored Charlotte when she was a child. “Who does she think she is?” she said through clenched teeth, blinking back hot tears. She cut her eyes at Camille, sitting on the floor.
Connie had put these bad thoughts in Reesy’s head. Connie was the spiteful and ungrateful one, and she whispered terrible lies to Reesy when they were children, trying to turn her against their mother. Charlotte felt relieved all of a sudden. Yes. She did leave, but it was Connie she told that she was only going to be gone for a little while. Connie had been the one, and she’d never told Reesy the truth. Connie had been such a hateful child.
“Lemme see it, Momma.” Cammy reached out, but Charlotte shrugged away.
It was hard not to cry. Charlotte’s bottom lip quivered, and she gave in to twenty-seven years of living without her two oldest children.
Cammy tugged gently on the letter. “No, Cammy!” Charlotte screamed. “This ain’t yours,” she said, clenching her teeth.
Cammy stared sadly at her mother, then lowered her head.
Charlotte glared at her. “My babies,” she said, through her mouth that never opened wide enough anymore; bones and tissue had fused together, healing and leaving her face horribly disfigured. “My babies found me, Cammy. And I’m glad they did. I’m so happy they did.”
She squeezed her eyes shut to help her remember their faces. Charlotte saw a blank space where her children’s faces should’ve been. Lord! How could she ever forget what they looked like? Sadness crept up on her, stealing the joy that Reesy’s letter had brought her, because she could no longer see them, or hear their voices as vividly as she once had. Charlotte had forgotten what they looked like, but then, why shouldn’t she? After all, she had long since forgotten the image of her own face.
Oh, but wait a minute. She breathed a sigh of relief. There. Charlotte smiled crookedly. There, in one dark corner of her mind, she’d found them, beautiful, golden, precious little girls, like angels, like dolls, and like the kind of dreams she prayed she’d never wake up from.
She lovingly patted the letter to her chest, and watched in awe as Connie’s pretty face came into view first, looking so much like Charlotte’s, or at least, the way Charlotte used to look. A soft, honey-colored girl, with sandy brown hair and amber-brown eyes.
“We looked like sisters,” she muttered, forgetting Cammy was nearby. Charlotte felt so proud. And she stared through the window across the room to the snow falling outside. “Like sisters.” People used to tell her that all the time, and sometimes Charlotte would pretend they were sisters. Sometimes it was easier believing Connie was her sister instead of her daughter, because Charlotte had been so young when she’d had her, only fifteen. And Connie . . . Charlotte sat back and remembered how unappreciative and cold Connie could be. The way she turned up her nose at Charlotte, and rolled her eyes when she thought her mother wasn’t looking.
She used to hate Connie sometimes back then, but time had brought forgiveness and acceptance of her oldest daughter. It was time for them to put their differences aside, she thought hopefully. Charlotte loved Connie, and it was long past time that Connie let go of ill feelings, embraced her mother, and admitted that she loved her, too.
Cammy’s sweet voice was like music. Charlotte looked at her and tried to smile. She was dark, like her father had been, but even so, Charlotte could see the strong resemblance between Cammy and Reesy.
Reesy, her baby. Her lovebug, she used to call her. Small, round, with full, soft cheeks that glowed like suns when she smiled, and Reesy smiled all the time, enough to light up a room, a house, a heart. In Reesy’s eyes, Charlotte was the world. Nobody loved her the way Reesy had loved her. She was so much like Cammy, always there for her momma, doing everything in her small way to make Charlotte happy.
Despite the way her letter sounded, Reesy still believed in her mother’s love, in her devotion, and she just needed to hear the truth, that Charlotte meant to come back. And that every day, she swore to herself that she would go get her girls, and they’d be together again, like she’d never left.
“I love you, Mommy.”
“How much, Reesy? How much do you love your Mommy?”
Reesy spread her arms wide, then sidestepped to one side of the room, touched the wall with her fingertips, and sidestepped to the other side of the room to touch the other wall. “This much, Mommy. I love you as big as this room.”
Love like that was intoxicating, and Charlotte smiled, recalling the way that child’s eyes lit up every time her momma walked into the room. Too many years had passed, and Charlotte struggled to recall how she could’ve ever left them behind. So much had happened, but she had always meant to go back for them. Of course she did. They needed to know that. After all this time, needed to tell them that.
“They found me, Cammy,” Charlotte sighed, relieved, and she stared glassy-eyed at Camille. “They found me, baby.” Her crooked smile was more brilliant than Cammy had ever seen before. “And everything is going to be just fine. You’ll see. My babies are coming to get me and take me back home.” 
Copyright © 2008 by Jaclyn Meridy. All rights reserved.


Excerpted from You Gotta Sin to Get Saved by Mason, J. D. Copyright © 2008 by Mason, J. D.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

1. After having had several abortions and allowing her sister to adopt her daughter and raise her as her own, do you feel that Connie’s decision to have and keep this baby is justified?

2. Reesy believed that Justin is being selfish for not understanding her obsession to find her mother. He believed she’s being selfish for letting that obsession take precedence over their relationship. Do you believe they could’ve found a middle ground that worked for both of them? If so, how?

3. Connie never seemed to trust that John could commit to her for better or for worse and expected for him to walk away from their relationship at any given moment? Do you think she believed deep down that he’d change? Were you surprised when he walked out on her?

4. Charlotte had her daughter Cammy convinced that she needed to be there to take care of Charlotte. Do you think Cammy’s perspective would’ve changed after she gave birth to her own child? Would you have blamed Cammy’s boyfriend, T, if he’d moved on?

5. Both Connie and Reesy had very different reactions to finding Charlotte. Do you believe that finding and confronting Charlotte was necessary? Or do you believe, as Connie did, that they should’ve just left well enough alone?

6. Do you believe that it’s possible for John to live up to and be the kind of man Connie dreams of? Or do you think he’ll always be the type to leave when the situation doesn’t suit him? Do you feel Connie is finally on her way to coming to terms with herself and her past?

7. Should Reesy and Connie explain the truth to Jade, that Connie is her real mother? Should they do it soon, or wait until she gets older? How do you think they can lesson the impact of this truth to this child?

8. What are your hopes for Cammy at the end of this story? Do you think Justin and Reesy can get passed the betrayal in their marriage and reconcile? Do you think they should? Do you think Connie will keep this child, and actually raise it? Do you believe she deserves the opportunity?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Past is Never Really the Past,

    With YOU GOTTA SIN TO GET SAVED, J.D. Mason brings her unexpected trilogy to a close. In the small town of Murphy, Kansas, lives Charlotte Rodgers, a woman running from her disturbing past. Hundreds of miles away in Denver, Colorado, are her daughters, Connie and Reesy, remnants of her past. When Charlotte abandoned Denver many years prior, she left behind her daughters, then eight and twelve, to fend for themselves.

    Now grown, married and a mother, Reesy wants closure and answers. She hires an investigator to find their mother. Consuming thoughts of her mother is taking a toll on her family and driving a wedge between sisters. Connie, on the other hand, can care less about Charlotte and whether she's dead or alive, much less looking for answers. While younger sister Reesy was adopted by a loving family, Connie had only the streets. At forty, Connie finds herself pregnant by her equally emotionally screwed up boyfriend John King (One Day I Saw a Black King). To abort or not to abort is the question.

    The investigator finds Charlotte and a reunion is inevitable. Are all parties ready for a family reckoning full of truths, pains and discovery?

    Mason remains on top of her game. She delivers yet another strong presentation of her talent. Mason's stories are always interesting, real and doesn't disappoint. Her portrayal of the internal conflict of each woman is vivid and compelling. YOU GOTTA SIN TO GET SAVED is good reading.

    Reviewed by: Toni
    4.5 stars

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 30, 2009

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    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 6, 2013

    Very Good story... wish it had ended different leaves you wantin

    Very Good story... wish it had ended different leaves you wanting to know what happened to the

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2009

    Great Book!!

    I just finished reading this was wonderful...i could hardly put it really feel like you are apart of the story...i will be collecting all of j.d. mason books starting with this one

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    You Got to sin to get saved

    I think that this is a great read. Very detailed almost on every point. But, the way it ended should have included more than just 1 sister. Other than that I loved this book.

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    When I first picked up this but, I thought it would be different then what it turned out to be. This was such a good read. Even for a white woman (which I am)
    This book kept me interested from front to back and I am on here to buy more of JD mason's books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2008

    The Third One Is A Charm

    Charlotte Rodgers always gets what she wants. Even if its means abandoning her children Connie and Reesy to fend for themselves in Denver, Colorado without any type of explanation. To follow behind her 'don't you know no good man' Sam to Memphis or so she thought. Twenty-seven years later, living in Murphy, Kansas Charlotte receives a letter from her youngest daughter Clarice Braxton 'Reesy'. So proud that her baby girl has finally found her, Reesy flies to Kansas to get the answers and closure that she so long been waiting for and is introduced to her sister Cammie who is pregnant. Connie is not to keen on being reunited with her birth mother because of the what has transpired in the past. She has issues of her own to deal with, which is part of the reason why she is so nonchalant of even the mentioning of her birth mother's name because of the abandonment. Feeling neglected, Reese's husband Justin start turning to other avenues for the attention he wants and deserves. What is definitely done in the dark will come to light. You Gotta Sin to Get Saved is the last installment of a trilogy. It switches back and forth from the past to the present of why certain events occurred. You will see how Charlotte shows favoritism towards Reesy and very cold at times with Cammie, makes you wonder if she is bi-polar. It is a very good read and will not disappoint. At the end it makes you wonder if there is gonna be another installment because of the way Mrs. Mason leaves you hanging. Tangerine, 'Reader's Paradise Book Club'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2008

    A reviewer

    It has been about 3 years, since I read One Day I Saw A Black King, Don't Want No Sugar, I just pick up, You Gotta Sin to Get Saved. She did this book beautifully, and Charlote to me still had no right to walk out on her two daughters the way she did. For her to suppose to love her Ladybug Reesy, she left her also. I just love the way she wrote John King's character in this book. It was like living it my-self. Can't wait to the next one. !Hurry Hurry Hurry! I could read about these characters all the time. It was all about Charlotte and she was the one who inflict the pain on her children. When she was young she let fate make her and today here she stand by the choices she made.

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    Posted August 3, 2011

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    Posted March 1, 2009

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    Posted April 14, 2012

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    Posted July 25, 2010

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    Posted January 11, 2012

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