This week’s Julieverse Reads list focuses on forgiveness and is curated by Molly Campbell, author of Keep the Ends Loose, which appeared on my Summer 2015 reading list. Looking for your next book club selection? Choose one of these three for a meaingful, exploratory discussion.
Forgiveness is something we all think we understand. But most of us don’t. It doesn’t mean “ok.” It doesn’t mean “I absolve you of all evil.” It doesn’t mean “All is forgotten.” It is a letting go, a realization that all of us are flawed, and that we can live with those flaws. Most of us have never actually forgiven, because it is so very difficult to do. Terrible things happen. Terrible things are done. Where does that leave us?
Forgiveness is a theme that fascinates authors, and it is a theme that permeates many novels. Some of my favorite books revolve around forgiveness. Here are three that you might want to read.
Electric God by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Electric God revolves around a good man with anger management issues. Hayden Reese is a huge man. A powerful man. And when things get rough, so does he—he goes to jail repeatedly for assault. As we read further, we see why Hayden is so angry, not only at the world, but at himself. There is a terrible thing in his past that haunts him, eats away at him, and causes him to nearly destroy himself and everyone that he loves. Hayden’s journey is a compelling story of family, love, violence, and yes, forgiveness.
The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
The House We Grew Up In is a fascinating story of one family and their mother’s descent into hoarding. We are all familiar with hoarders since reality television introduced us to them, and this novel outlines one woman’s gradual unraveling and the impact it has on her family. This book is many layered, and so emotionally resonant that I am still thinking about it weeks after finishing it. What causes a person who as we meet her is so happy, so whimsical, and so free, to become house-bound and surrounded by things she cannot let go? Each of her children has a sub-plot, as does her husband, and we see how all of the story lines cross and get tangled, until, yes—we discover the terrible thing that predicated this whole family’s near demise. It is a wonderful and disturbing read.
Keep the Ends Loose by Molly D. Campbell (well, this is me!)
Keep the Ends Loose is the coming-of-age story of Mandy Heath. At age fifteen, she is suddenly recruited by her mother to help find Frank Fletcher, a long-lost uncle who somehow never divorced Mandy’s aunt. As told through the quirky lens of this wise yet naïve teen, the events of the summer before high school lead the Heaths down a road of discovery and revelations. And yes, it is one terrible thing that almost causes the entire family to fall apart. Can forgiveness prevail? Maybe.
All three of these books are absorbing, hard to put down, and great summer reads. For book clubs, discussing the theme of forgiveness as it is explored in these three novels is a great way to uncover our own ideas about forgiveness, and perhaps to come to a better understanding of how forgiveness is something we all might need to learn how to do. Because terrible things happen to all of us.
© 2015, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.