Feature article in the Austin American Statesman
, and the Dallas Morning News
Excerpts can be read in the Austin Chronicle
and the Dallas Morning News
Tom Lynch, NewCity Chicago (July 25)
Inspired by the true story of Amy Biehl, an American Fulbright scholar who was, while in South Africa, viciously stoned to death while she drove her student home from class, "Forgive Me," the latest from author Amanda Eyre Ward ("How to Be Lost," "Sleep Toward Heaven"), is taut, powerful and deeply melancholy, a message of memory and responsibility. Ward's prose is elegant and dramatic without beating you over your head with sentimentality-this is a story, it seems, she needed to tell. Nadine Morgan, a world-traveling journalist, hasn't returned to South Africa since she suffered great loss, until she hears of Jason Irving, a young American student who was beaten to death (this all occurs during the height of apartheid). The boy's parents, years later, are devastated to find that their son's killers have now applied for amnesty. The three venture to a land of chaos and tortured remembrance. Ward's book, lovely and exhausting, should be devoured.
Michelle Quint, San Francisco Chronicle (July 15)
With her characteristically clipped prose, Ward dramatically conveys Nadine's hardened character..."Forgive Me" meditates on many complex issues surrounding race and globalization.
Robin Vidimos, The Denver Post (June 15); Editor's choice July 21
Emotional distance and the price it extracts drive the thoughtful and compulsively readable "Forgive Me." Amanda Eyre Ward chronicles one woman's tenuous journey along a road of self-forgiveness to salvation, taking the reader along an unpredictable path. Ward's prose is clean, and the story moves efficiently forward, with enough detail and dialogue to make her points without unnecessary fluff. The resulting novel is a quick and impacting read. The characters and situations are resonantly drawn, so much so that this is a novel that is over much too soon.
Pat Macenulty, Charlotte Observer (June 17)
Amanda Eyre Ward writes novels that are intellectually, emotionally and morally satisfying. She tackles tough subjects, such as the death penalty, child abduction and, in this latest novel, apartheid, and brings the complexities of these issues to the surface through the eyes of her often ambivalent characters.
Ward examines how people deal with loss and betrayal as well as the mechanisms we use for survival. Although her characters may be victimized, they are not necessarily victims. Redemption is not guaranteed but it is always a possibility. This refreshing quality imbues her work with a sense of honesty.
Her third novel, "Forgive Me," begins in Mexico, where Nadine Morgan, an aggressive reporter, doesn't listen to her instincts, drives into a dangerous situation and is beaten until she is nearly dead. Sent home to Cape Cod to recuperate, she feels imprisoned by memories of an unhappy childhood and yearns to get back to her work until she finds herself emotionally entangled with the local doctor.
Though she is tempted by the security and love the doctor offers, Nadine can't resist following a news story to South Africa where, early in her career, she made mistakes that have continued to haunt her.
The story that lures her back to her past revolves around a young American who was senselessly murdered by a mob of African teenagers a decade earlier. Now his bereaved parents must confront one of his killers -- the younger sister of one of Nadine's former friends. As this drama unfolds, another story of an unwitting boy in the hands of a pedophile insinuates itself into the narrative and heightens the suspense.
The novel starts slowly, but ultimately readers will find this book compelling and deeply satisfying in a way that is uncommon in contemporary fiction.
Texas Monthly, June 2007
In AMANDA EYRE WARD's cinematic third novel, FORGIVE ME, the Austin writer beautifully spans the physical and social divide between Cape Town, in the waning days of apartheid, and Cape Cod, where journalist Nadine Morgan wrestles with the all-consuming ambition that finds her both single and childless but desperately wanting to return as a reporter to South Africa. The tale jumps through time and distance: Flash back to Nadine on assignment in Cape Town, where her lover, Maxim, is killed while photographing a gun battle and an American teacher, Jason Irving, is murdered by a youth mob that includes fifteen-year-old Evelina Malefane. Flash forward to Nadine fleeing Nantucket (and her best chance at settling down) in the hopes of interviewing Jason's parents at Evelina's amnesty hearing before South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Ward avoids glib answers, preferring to question the differences between perpetrators and victims-and ask who deserves to be forgiven.
Booklist, starred review
Upon finishing Ward's tantalizingly spare yet precisely powerful novel, readers will want to start all over again, looking for the clues they missed the first time around when Ward, like a cunning magician, so deftly led them astray. So adroit is Ward at throwing readers off the track throughout this piercing tale of one emotionally wounded woman's attempt to reconcile the gut-wrenching decisions she makes in the name of professionalism with the heartbreaking choices she faces in her personal life, that its sinewy, often mysterious, subplot doesn't reveal itself until almost the very end. An aggressive foreign correspondent driven by her need to repudiate her provincial New England background through her headstrong pursuit of stories set in the world's most perilous locations, Nadine follows a local couple to post-apartheid South Africa, the site of their greatest tragedy and her greatest love. She is fleeing a new relationship, running headlong into her past, while they are about to face their son's killer, a young black girl who is begging for their mercy. Mercy is hard to come by in Ward's world, but when it is, finally, granted, its deliverance is sweet and sure.
Dani Shapiro, author of Family History
"Amanda Eyre Ward tells a compelling story in Forgive Me--full of hard
truths, and no easy answers. This is a book readers will fly through--but
also one that will linger and haunt."
Adrienne Miller, author of The Coast of Akron
As rendered through Amanda Eyre Ward╣s impeccable prose, two stories,
past and present, join to create an engrossing, mature, devastating work
about motherhood and remembrance. Forgive Me is an exceptional novel, infused
with a deep emotional intelligence.