Saturday, September 15, 2007

Review: Forgive Me by Amanda Eyre Ward

Nadine Morgan is a 35 year old journalist who travels to all the danger spots in the world reporting on revolutions and uprisings. As Forgive Me opens she is beaten up by Mexican drug runners in Chiapas and is recuperating with her dad and his girlfriend at their motel on Cape Cod. Nadine has erected many emotional walls to protect herself from attachment and commitment. She doesn't even communicate very well with her father or her best friend. She does form a relationship with her doctor, Hank, and spends Christmas with him at his house on Nantucket. But when Hank brings her a local newspaper and she reads a story about South Africa she immediately buys a ticket and heads to Johannesburg and her past. As a young reporter Nadine had lived in South Africa and reported on the murder of an American teacher, Jason Irving, by ANC members. Jason's parents are on the same flight with Nadine and refuse to give her an interview. Once in SA Nadine confronts her past and reflects on her lover, Maxim's, murder, her relationship with Thola, the sister of the girl who murdered Jason, and the nature of forgiveness as she attends hearings to free Thola's sister. The entire novel reflects on forgiveness and reconciling past injustices and regrets. Nadine is a complex and mysterious character and we're never sure if she will forgive others or herself. Reading about the atrocities of apartheid and the efforts of an entire country to forgive is fascinating and an interesting backdrop to Nadine's personal struggles. I enjoyed this novel and was compelled to discover what path Nadine would take. Will she continue in her solitary life as a journalist or return to Hank and life as a doctor's wife? Interspersed throughout the novel are diary entries written by a boy we think at first is Jason, but come to realize is Nadine's future son. This aspect of the novel was a bit confusing to me, but overall it doesn't deter from the powerful message of forgiveness the novel explores.

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