Life as Sin


Book Cover



    Core Theme



    20th Century (multiple decades),1980s & '90s











    This is my true story about about the 19 years I lived in Gordonridge, a Toronto Community Housing project. Its a coming of age story that focuses on the highs and deep lows that derive from living in housing institutions. This story is unique as it has rarely been told by the Canadian black girl.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 13-17,18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal


    Scarborough Ontario

    Based on a True Story


    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Amazon

    Year Published: 2020

    Starting Description

    The story begins with the discussion around the effects of institutionalization. It describes the conditions of the environment in a rhythmic and at times comedic way, while expressing the gems, and pain of the people who lived there.

    Ending Description

    The story comes full circle as the main character and the institution that both, loved and hurt her ends with a final goodbye in a way that could've only happened in this place; Gordonridge.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available



    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Sexual Abuse,Substance Abuse

    Plot - Other Elements

    Coming of Age,Happy Ending,Meaningful Message

    Plot - Premise

    Internal Journey/Rebirth,Tragedy,Rags to Riches

    Main Character Details

    Name: Sinder-Marie

    Age: 1-19

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Badass,Clumsy,Empathetic,Faithful,Engaging,Honorable,Insecure,Underdog,Outspoken,Strong Moral Code

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Christine Pascal

    Age: 25 to 40

    Gender: Female


    Key Traits:

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this




    A young Black girl grows up in Gordonridge, a community housing project in Toronto, Ontario. She’s raised by her single mother and older brother, and her father is largely absent from her life. She and her friends’ lives are steeped in 1990s Western culture, but they’re never far from the violence that pervades their community. As she gets older, she begins to focus more on her passion for basketball and the visual arts, eventually settling on a career in writing so she can tell her own story.

    Overall Rating


    Point of View


    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: EXCELLENT

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Yes, overall the Book Profile accurately reflects the book. The character section could be expanded, as only Sin and her mother are mentioned. The profile could also do with a proofing pass to present a more professional front.

    Draw of Story

    The writer’s voice is so strong and memorable, and it’s an instant draw into the story itself. It’s conversational and it truly makes it feel as though the author is speaking directly to you, as the reader. It invites the reader to experience all of Sinder-Marie’s ups and downs alongside her, which is perfect for making her an incredibly relatable and thus empathetic character. The voice is exuberant and straight-forward, and it makes every word jump off the page. Every story told within feels important and life-changing, whether it’s about Sin having a crush or about her brother’s close friend dying.

    Possible Drawbacks

    Though the writer’s voice and style is so strong, there’s not a central through line to the novel. The narrative skips back and forth in time, and the long paragraphs and way the dialogue isn’t separated out give it a frantic edge that can make for a difficult read. Sometimes paragraphs last for multiple pages, and there’s often not a key point to the paragraph itself. Separating these out will make sure that nothing is getting lost on the page, and it will help with the storytelling overall. Focusing on a narrative that can be followed throughout the novel would also be great, as right now there’s not a main storyline that’s easy to follow. In helping the story to flow better, the novel could also do with a thoroughly proofreading. A professional editor could help what’s already on the page really shine.

    Use of Special Effects


    Primary Hook of Story

    Besides the nostalgia for the 1990s, the biggest hook in this is a young Black girl leading — and telling — her own story. This is, frustratingly, so rarely done, and it’s a great way to lure an audience in who might not often feel represented onscreen. Sinder-Marie tells her story in an interesting and fun way that invites the audience to come along for the ride, and that’s the perfect way to get people to the movie theater.

    Fanbase Potential

    It’s likely that this could draw in a big Millennial fanbase thanks to the time period when Sin is growing up. This 1990s nostalgia feels natural and so authentic on the page, and it’s easy to see it utilized in a feature trailer that would pul in an audience.

    Awards Potential

    Yes, it’s likely this story could have traditional awards potential due to the fact that it’s a memoir based around a unique experience. The cast of any adaptation would likely see nominations aplenty thanks to the potential in the characters.

    Envisioned Budget


    Similar Films/TV Series


    What’s New About the Story

    Sinder’s perspective helps to make this unique, and it’s something that can definitely be capitalized on and used to sell this. Identifying and focusing on a central though line will help this to stand out even more, as right now there’s not enough that’s unique about this story. Nothing that happens to Sin is particularly new or fresh, but the fact that it’s a true story helps immensely.

    Lead Characters

    As a young Black girl in Canada, Sin stands out plenty by representing a rare point of view. Giving her a central goal that ties into the themes of slavery and imprisonment — so likely one pertaining to freedom — will help her to be an even better lead character. The audience wants to be able to follow Sin as she tries to achieve something, not just as she lives through her experiences. A memoir that briefly touches on multiple moments in a person’s life is normally only successful if that person is fairly famous. The supporting characters, namely her brother and mother, could also be beefed up a good amount. Right now, Christine and Kevin are barely present. When they are included, they faded into the background as Sin is often talking about past experiences with them so they don’t feel as present within her story.

    Uniqueness of Story

    As mentioned, Sinder-Marie’s story can be considered a rare gem because she has an incredibly unique perspective which is unfortunately not often shown on screen. The way she views the world is poetic and compelling. With a clearer narrative, this story could really stand out from the pack.

    Possible Formats

    Film: Indie

    Analyst Recommendation



    The writer’s voice really is so strong, and it makes up a lot of ground where the book might otherwise fall short. The key concern would be the lack of a central story, as an adaptation would have to build one from the ground up. Sin isn’t moving toward anything within the book, it’s just a series of events that happened to or around her in the first 19 years of her life. There’s no real resolution besides the fact that her family is moving at the end, and this sometimes feels more like a prologue to the rest of Sin’s life. Her experience is unique and compelling, though, and it’s steeped in ‘90s nostalgia in the best way. It’s easy to see an audience in the same generation as Sin being immediately drawn into this, as it feels familiar in the best way.


    Growing up in the projects of Toronto, a young Black girl struggles with absentee parents, violence on the street, and racism while carving out a place for herself using her creative gifts.

    What We Liked

    As both a writer and a protagonist, Sinder-Marie takes the audience on a journey all her own — and one only she could tell. She comes of age with the world against her, and she makes sure to pay her dues to those that helped her find her voice along the way. She manages to express herself in a heartfelt and compelling memoir that invites the audience into her life alongside her, so that we might truly know what it’s like to live in Gordonridge, too. A unique voice with a fresh take on a 1990s story, this is a character that undoubtedly deserves to be brought to either the big or small screen.

    Film: Steeped in the movies, music, and culture of the 1990s, a trailer for a film adaptation of this novel all but leaps off the page. Like with any classic coming-of-age movie, Sinder-Marie’s experience as a Black girl growing up in community housing in Toronto is all her own yet still so relatable to a wide audience. Her story comes from an unexpected and fresh perspective, and she tells it with so much panache that it’s easy to see audiences flocking to the theater (or their streaming services) to watch her character do so.

    TV: With ‘90s nostalgia everywhere these days, and the appetite for it hardly waning, it’s easy to see a coming-of-age TV show centered around Sinder-Marie. The novel covers the first nineteen years of her life, and a show would have the space to really explore all of that time so that the audience could see her grow into a confident and artistic young woman ready to leave the projects behind her — while still carrying their influence with her. A series would allow for all of her friends and family to have their own roles and subplots as well, really fleshing out her world with those around her.

    Key points:
    1. Female protagonist of color
    2. True story
    3. Writer’s voice is strong
    4. Unique perspective and setting
    5. 1990s nostalgia elements


    SINDER-MARIE grows up in the Gordonridge housing projects in Toronto, Ontario. As her DAD is largely absent, she’s raised by her mom CHRISTINE and older half-brother KEVIN. Sin and Kevin are five years apart and very close when she’s young, and he indoctrinates her to all the right movies and music of the 1990s. They begin to grow apart as he gets older and hangs out with kids his own age. Two of those TEENAGE BOYS rape Sin when she’s young. One of Kevin’s friends, CARLOS, sends Sin to collect on a debt for him when she’s only 10-years-old. She takes on the older GIRL just as she takes on any of Kevin’s beef as her own.

    When Sin was younger, Kevin’s good friend ISHMAEL was stabbed at a subway station, and the killer isn’t caught for a decade. It hurts Kevin, and Sin thinks this is when they became less close. Sin is haunted by something, hearing voices and having terrible nightmares, and she has to force herself out of her own head. She does this best by playing with her friends who also live in the community, like SHAMAR, BRANDON, SHOSHANNA, and ALEX. They play at the local Recreation Center, as well as a nearby factory when it’s closed on the weekend. Sin has a crush on Alex, and she thinks it’s returned. While playing at the factory, someone calls the police. Sin and Alex are the youngest, and they hide. Everyone else gets only a warning, at least.

    Sin struggles to do well in traditional classes, though she excels in basketball and the visual arts. She buckles down to improve her grades, and she has some amazing TEACHERS who help her see her potential. She leaves fighting behind in junior high and becomes popular. Again and again, Sin’s father makes plans to see her and doesn’t show up. In her 7th grade year, he is around most of the time, and it’s a glorious change for her. It can’t last, though. He tells her he’s going home to Jamaica for a bit, but he doesn’t come back for several years. Luckily she has other father figures, like Kevin, and their UNCLE ROMEL, and even Kevin’s dad MICHAEL. Romel was always there for her school events, and he looked out for her as much as he could.

    When Sin is fifteen, she gets a job at McDonalds to help Christine pay bills, because she wants to help out more than Kevin does. She quits after a misunderstanding with a white store owner leads to her hours getting cut, refusing to put up with the racism. She then works at a grocery store that’s closer to home. She’s so good at basketball that she could play with the boys, but her school doesn’t have the resources to send her on the right path to play professionally. Besides visual arts, Sin finds a passion for performing, and she gets into the school productions. As high school wears on, she struggles with depression. Her grades dip, but she remains popular and saves the money she makes by working for designer clothes.

    Through performing, Sin begins to write her own stories. She writes poetry and performs it live. Her dad calls her out of the blue in her penultimate year of high school, and she pretends not to care about the lack of him in her life. She manages her depression the best she can, but she knows she can’t kill herself because she can’t hurt Christine. As high school comes to a close, she realizes she needs to go an extra semester to get her grades up and get into the theatre programs she wants to. After being accepted to many, she decides on Humber College as it won’t break the bank and has a great program. She and Christine move out of Gordonridge when Sin is nineteen, ending this part of their story. Sin is hopeful for her future but she’ll always have a place in her heart for Gordonridge and the people who lived there.

    About The Author

    “My name is Sinder-Marie. I'm an author from Toronto. I'm an Afro Caribbean-Canadian born from my Jamaican father and Grenadian mother. I grew up in a single parent home and was raised by my mother and older brother. My older brother was a rapper and my mother was an avid listener of R&B music. This influenced my need to express my adversities through writing. I was never very good in academia, particularly in English in its traditional form, but I could write in my own way. A creative way, filled with cadence, rhythm and rhyme. I found my voice in my writing. So now I talk all the time.”