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Monday, August 24, 2009

Forgive Me: A RevGals Book Discussion

Forgive Me By Amanda Eyre Ward
reviewed by Mompriest

Forgive Me is the second book I have read by Amanda Eyre Ward. The first, Sleep Toward Heaven, I picked up on a whim at one of the bookstores during a summer vacation about 3 years ago. Sleep Toward Heaven is a story of how the lives of people, who have never met, can unknowingly intersect and effect one another. It was a startling book of loss, reconciliation, and healing.

It was no surprise then, that last spring I was drawn to a local book festival that included a presentation by Ward and an opportunity to have her sign books. It was at that festival that I picked up, and had Ward sign, Forgive Me. Anticipating a book that would draw me in as Sleep Toward Heaven had, I anxiously awaited an upcoming retreat, knowing I could luxuriate in reading the book cover to cover. I anticipated a good read, and I was not disappointed.

Forgive Me moves quickly through the life of a woman, Nadine Morgan, a journalist always on the hunt for the perfect story. A woman who, it soon becomes apparent, is really trying to find herself. The story weaves back and forth through the broken places in her life, the early death of her mother and the tragic death of her first real love. Emotionally the journalist in her has safely tucked away and glossed over the painful pieces of her life, consumed instead by the adventures of newspaper journalism and the thrill of life-threatening risks.

The story of Nadine’s life covers some of the big news stories of our generation , from the struggles of apartheid in South Africa to the violence of drug trafficking in Mexico and back again to South Africa during the trials of Truth and Reconciliation. Weaving from first person to third person, from love to loss and back to love again, the story takes on several dimensions at the same time. Like Sleep Toward Heaven this story reflects on the ways lives intersect, are broken, and, sometimes healed. It is a story of anger, pain, death, and forgiveness. It’s a story about mothers, children, and ambition. Ultimately it’s a story about Nadine forgiving herself, a process which opens her up to possibilities she never imagined for herself.

I’ve read this book two times, and I never read a book more than once. Of course, I read it the second time to prepare this review….BUT, I was surprised that I still liked it as much as the first time.

Anyway, I’m curious if others enjoyed this book as much as I did?

And, if so why? Or, why not?

There is a converation between Marsha Hamilton (author of Camel Bookmobile) and Amanda Ward at the back of the book, that looks more closely at Wards experience in South Africa.

What do you know or understand about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa?

How does the TRC help us understand the power of forgiveness?

Is it more difficult to forgive another or more difficult to forgive ourselves?

Do you have a story about forgiveness to share?

Let’s discuss it in the comments or for a longer post, link us to your blog.


  1. I just finished the book last night in anticipation of the conversation today, but also because I couldn't put it down! I was about half-way (maybe even a little less) when I picked it up before about 9 pm, and I read until about 11:30. I found it a beautiful book, also with many poignant trajectories about parenting and the love that a parent feels for a child, and the way in which the child may or may not appreciate that. When baby girl woke up to nurse just as I was finishing the last pages, I was grateful to have her in my arms as I tearfully finished reading. Thanks for this wonderful recommendation! There's no way I would have found this book without it, and now I plan to read the other two books by this author as well!

  2. Thank you both for your lovely comments on the book. Sarah, I wrote the book while nursing my second son...I'm so glad to have conveyed some of my sense of joy and terror during those early days.

  3. Sarah, thank you!

    Amanda, thank you for stopping by, this discussion will go on all day and into the night....

    I continue to ponder the question of forgiveness. Those occasions when forgiveness is possible are gracefilled moments - healing of deep wounds may be possible!

    But what of those occasions when forgiveness does not happen? When for one reason or another one person refuses to forgive another, even when a sincere apology has been offered?

  4. I've never experienced refusal to forgive, on either side, after actual repentance--much more common in my experience is seeing people refuse to apologize or make amends for harm done, which makes forgiveness problematic. In some cases forgiving anyway can be freeing; in others "retaining the sin" as Jesus spoke of in the Gospel is the best way to honor one's own dignity and call the offender to transformation.

  5. Sophia, Thank you for your thoughts on forgiveness. I have experienced the refusal to forgive, even under the circumstances of a true apology and efforts to renconcile...but that's a story for another day.

    I am intrigued by the idea of "retaining the sin"...I'm not sure such an act will call all involved into transformation - but it will have an impact.

    Does this, for example, point to what happens in the TRC when the person refuses to forgive the one who murdered their family?

  6. I suppose we have many time of forgiveness. But, until you know it you can't understand it.

    A book I am reading now, is about this as well...and more. It's titled, "The Shack" and it's by Wm. Paul Young. It's a transformational book that I have been hearing about.

    It will make tears flow and your heart shake itself in wonder. It is written beautifully, perhaps exquisitely is more what I mean.

    I find it hard to put down, but want to savour it, knowing it will change me, also confirm me and make me think of how and why I do things a different way than before.

    Also if you head over to Spritual Motion, you'll find a surprise for you Welcome you back from summer to fall, well almost fall.
    This is your special welcome back.

  7. Wow. OK. Now I know I must put this on my wish list. Since I just spent $$$$$$$$$$ on books for the fall semester, it'll have to wait. (sigh)

    I love a good story and can't wait to read BOTH books!!!


  8. I fully intended to read this one, checked it out of the library TWO times and still did not get it read...but I think this is a book I may need to read. I'll go to the library again. :-)


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