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May We Be Forgiven: A Novel

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Overview

?A big American story with big American themes? (Elle) from the author of the New York Times?bestselling memoir The Mistress?s Daughter

In this vivid, transfixing new novel, A. M. Homes presents a darkly comic look at twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation. Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his more successful younger brother, George, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. ...

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May We Be Forgiven

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Overview

“A big American story with big American themes” (Elle) from the author of the New York Times–bestselling memoir The Mistress’s Daughter

In this vivid, transfixing new novel, A. M. Homes presents a darkly comic look at twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation. Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his more successful younger brother, George, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. When George’s murderous temper results in a shocking act of violence, both men are hurled into entirely new lives. May We Be Forgiven digs deeply into the near biblical intensity of fraternal relationships, our need to make sense of things, and our craving for connection. It is an unnerving tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It’s difficult to keep track of the number of awful things that happen to Harold Silver in the first 100 pages of Homes’s plodding latest novel. It is equally difficult to care that these things happen to him. Harold’s brother, whose anger problem is alluded to but never explicitly mentioned, goes crazy and murders his wife, among other acts of cruelty. In the wake of this tragedy, Harold is made legal guardian of his brother’s children. Harold’s life continues to unravel as he gets a divorce, loses his job, begins online dating, and endures many other crises that require intense self-reflection. Harold eventually triumphs over his various problems, evolving into the loving, supportive, and thoughtful man he’s never been, but the process feels forced, implausible, and overwrought. While Homes (The Mistress’s Daughter) successfully creates a convincing male protagonist, everything else about Harold’s story fails to persuade. If the reader was given a better sense of who Harold was before his life fell apart, we might be more invested in who he later becomes. The novel suffers from Homes’s insistence on having Harold’s life continually move from bad to worse, forgetting that sometimes less is more. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wiley Agency. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Homes (This Book Will Save Your Life) opens her new novel with two family tragedies, both involving network bigwig George Silver. George is crazy. Dangerously crazy. Kill-his-wife crazy. Altogether three children lose their parents because of George, including his two teenagers, leaving his older brother Harry to pick up the pieces. Harry has his own problems and his difficult relationship with George doesn't make things easier when he finds himself the legal guardian of his brother's children. The novel follows Harry as he learns to be a parent, friend, and all-around good guy during the year following his sister-in-law's murder. While trying to cope with the tragedies left in George's wake, Harry reaches out to other lost people and reconnects with his own family. VERDICT Although some of the situations in the novel are unbelievable and the ending a bit too tidy, the characters are well developed and credible. Grief never descends into melodrama. Recommended for readers who enjoy stories about contemporary family life. [See Prepub Alert, 4/16/12.]—Pamela Mann, St. Mary's Coll. of Maryland, St. Mary's City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780147509703
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/24/2013
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 230,129
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

A. M. Homes

A. M. Homes is the author of five novels, most recently This Book Will Save Your Life; two collections of stories; and the memoir The Mistress’s Daughter. Her fiction and essays have been published in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Harper’s, Granta, and One Story. She lives in New York City.

Biography

The book Homes is perhaps best known for is her novel The End of Alice -- chiefly because it caused such a stir.

The narrator, a middle-aged sex offender in prison for murdering a little girl, develops a correspondence with a college girl who's obsessed with a 12-year-old boy. The result was a compendium of behavior -- real and imagined -- that was largely so violent, sickening or "show-offy dirty," as the New York Times put it, that its prose and events were excerpt-resistant and left mainly to the brave and curious. The book spurred a flurry of protests and attempted bans.

In 1999, Homes followed up The End of Alice with Music for Torching, a novel of kink and circumstance in the suburbs of New York in which an unhappy couple sets fire to their own house, then moves in with neighbors whose seemingly perfect marriage reveals its own subterranean faults. A high school hostage situation that is part of the book's coda had coincidental parallels to the Columbine tragedy that same year. The New York Times had a typical response: "The fact is, I was at times appalled by the book, annoyed by it, angered by it. Its ending struck me as cynical and manipulative. But even so, I found myself rapt from beginning to end, fascinated by Homes's single-minded talent for provocation."

For many readers, summaries like this are a signal to run, run, run in the other direction. But first, consider that Homes's books are not just big Pandora's boxes -- they can be a funny Pandora's boxes. In the story "Real Doll," for example, collected in 1990's The Safety of Objects, a boy's -- er, relationship -- with a Barbie doll bears some humorous gibes ("I [Barbie] if she wanted something to drink. ‘Diet Coke,' she said. And I wondered why I'd asked.").

Homes's earlier work is also almost sweet by comparison. Her well-received debut novel Jack chronicled the struggles of a 15-year-old to cope with his parents' divorce and the revelation that his dad is gay; In a Country of Mothers deals with a middle-aged counselor's deepening relationship with her 19-year-old female client. Both books contain poignant explorations of identity.

In her second story collection Things You Should Know, Homes continued to develop her singular, eclectic voice. A biracial marriage suffers a rift created by an addled, deteriorating mother-in-law in "Chinese Lessons"; Nancy Reagan's current life is devilishly imagined in "The Former First Lady and the Football Hero"; a woman endeavors to inseminate herself with the leftovers from beach trysts she espies in "Georgica." As with Homes's previous works, the collection is a testament to the author's talents for portraying the depths of human pain and depravity with humor and unabashed honesty.

Good To Know

Homes is an adjunct assistant professor of creative writing at Columbia University.

Perhaps tired of the scrutiny that arose from The End of Alice, Homes often comes across as a difficult interview subject, flatly refusing to indulge (or even validate) the natural curiosity about any personal connection to her work. She dressed down an interviewer in The Barcelona Review in 1997 thusly: "I have no experience with ‘recovery.' Again, you're applying your own notions about abuse, recovery, personal narrative, to the work. These are not areas I work from, they are not relevant. ...You seem to have a recurring question or concern about how I assimilate what goes on in my stories into everyday life. I am a fiction writer, I work from my imagination, in response to things going on in the culture."

The Safety of Objects was adapted for film by director Rose Troche in 2001, with stars including Glenn Close and Dermot Mulroney.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 18, 1961
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1985; M.F.A., University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Customer Reviews

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( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    I really enjoyed this book. It is an exception piece of fiction,

    I really enjoyed this book. It is an exception piece of fiction, a year the life of a man, who finally finds a family. This is not a book with lofty pretentious prose meant to impress. It is better than that--it is a story well told and some that brings tears to the eyes without being sentimental. I also loved the Richard Nixon tie-in. Highly recommended.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 22, 2012

    I actually felt like I was living that whole year with the prota

    I actually felt like I was living that whole year with the protagonist of the story and sincerely wishing for the best for that character.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2012

    A great book for fans of darker humor

    A very funny, almost tongue in cheek book about a grown man's coming of age, and the people that get him there. Rich characters populate a story with several laugh out loud moments. Strongly recommend.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2012

    This is a great book; it reminds me a little of Dave Eggars and/

    This is a great book; it reminds me a little of Dave Eggars and/or Jess Walter, two of my favorites. Lots of intricate relationships and an overall sweet story, although the author has some dark moments. Loved it!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2014

    Interesting Title

    It's an interesting title, I'll look at the reviews to judge it's rate.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2013

    UNFORGIVABLE.

    "They were absent children, absent of personality, absent of presence, and, except for holidays, largely absent from the house."—page 10 Perhaps no effort or experience is ever really a complete waste of time, but reading this novel, MAY WE BE FORGIVEN, by A. M. Homes—the narrative of which mostly oscillates in a range from 'lame and unpleasant' to outright 'stupid and disgusting'—comes very close. Recommendation: I'm sorry I read it. And, now that I have, I'd be ashamed to recommend it to anyone else. NOOKbook from Barnes & Noble, 468 pages

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2013

    Mariah's Bio

    NAME: Mariah Custandi <br> AGE: 16 <br> LIKES: guys between the age of 16-19, clothes, people <br> DISLIKES: godmods, desperates <br> LOOKS: <br> <br> WOLF: I'm a golden/ tanned coloured she-wolf with dark green eyes. Above my nose is a large scar. <br> HUMAN: I'm a blonde. T.T i have emerald green eyes and a wide smile. I have green and blue braces and freckles on my cheeks. Uuuh, I wear skinny jeans and a Skrillex sweatshirt with Osiris or DC hightops. Hmmm, wht am i forgetting? Nothing i hope, if anybody may want something or get to know me, i'm watching Warriors' first result.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 31, 2014

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    Posted October 8, 2012

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    Posted February 21, 2014

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    Posted November 27, 2013

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