Forgive Me

Forgive Me

by Amanda Eyre Ward


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Forgive Me by Amanda Eyre Ward

From the acclaimed author of How to Be Lost comes a gorgeous new novel about love, memory, and motherhood.

Nadine Morgan travels the world as a journalist, covering important events, following dangerous leads, and running from anything that might tie her down. Since an assignment in Cape Town ended in tragedy and regret, Nadine has not returned to South Africa, or opened her heart–until she hears the story of Jason Irving.

Jason, an American student, was beaten to death by angry local youths at the height of the apartheid era. Years later, his mother is told that Jason’s killers have applied for amnesty. Jason’s parents pack their bags and fly from Nantucket to Cape Town. Filled with rage, Jason’s mother resolves to fight the murderers’ pleas for forgiveness.

As Nadine follows the Irvings to beautiful, ghost-filled South Africa, she is flooded with memories of a time when the pull toward adventure and intrigue left her with a broken heart. Haunted by guilt and a sense of remorse, and hoping to lose herself in her coverage of the murder trial, Nadine grows closer to Jason’s mother as well as to the mother of one of Jason’s killers–with profound consequences. In a country both foreign and familiar, Nadine is forced to face long-buried demons, come to terms with the missing pieces of her own family past, and learn what it means to truly love and to forgive.

With her dazzling prose and resonant themes, Amanda Eyre Ward has joined the ranks of such beloved American novelists as Anne Tyler and Ann Patchett. Gripping, darkly humorous, and luminous, Forgive Me is an unforgettable story of dreams and longing, betrayal and redemption.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345494474
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/29/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 985,999
Product dimensions: 5.17(w) x 7.92(h) x 0.59(d)

About the Author

Amanda Eyre Ward is the award-winning author of How to Be Lost and Sleep Toward Heaven. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Nadine hears the parrots. So picturesque in the evening, floating over the courtyard while she sips tequila and deciphers the day’s notes, the birds make the hot dawn intolerable. Two thin pillows cannot block the cacophony. Nadine’s sheets press against her body. She remembers the warm lips of a local journalist, but wakes alone.

A room at La Hacienda Solita includes breakfast. Slowly, Nadine makes her way to the wooden table outside the kitchen. She orders eggs, beans, coffee, and juice from the girl. The juice arrives in a ceramic glass filled with ice cubes, and Nadine drinks it, though she should not. The girl—no more than ten—stands next to the table, her bare feet callused. She watches Nadine.

There is a communal shower. Nadine uses Pert Plus shampoo, bought in an American Rite Aid on her way back over the border: she was in a Laredo police station when the news of the twelve dead boys came in.

Nadine travels light: a comb, shampoo, lotion, lipstick. Two T-shirts, two pairs of pants, lace underwear—her one indulgence. She has an apartment in the Associated Press compound in Mexico City, but hasn’t been there in a month.

On the dashboard of her rental car, Nadine finds a rubber band. She pulls her black hair back with both hands, affixes the band, and puts on sunglasses. She opens her topographic map. Today, she will find and interview the boys’ families. The mother of one boy told a local TV reporter that her son had worked in a seafood restaurant. Her large, two-story home and expensive clothes told a different story.

The car’s air-conditioning is broken. Nadine punches the radio on and begins to drive. Her Spanish is good; languages have always come easily to her. She plays the music loudly and hums along. It’s a song about a man who wronged a woman. “If you come back to me,” the man sings, “I will never stray again.” She thinks of the journalist’s spicy cologne, his breath against her ear as they swayed to jukebox melodies at the cantina. She smiles. It took half a bottle of Herradura and a few kisses to get directions to the boys’ tiny village.

Nadine drives slowly down the narrow streets. Men unlock metal doors and heave them upward, exposing bright fruits and vegetables, rows of shirts, videocassettes. Women sweep the sidewalk and children walk to school, holding hands. A donkey cart blocks Nadine’s way, then lurches down a side alley.

Finally, she reaches the outskirts. Passing squat homes protected by latticework concrete, Nadine accelerates. The air blazing through her open window is little comfort. She heads toward the mountains. Ian made her promise to wear the bulletproof vest, but Nadine reasons that having it in the backseat is good enough. It’s heavy and bulky, and for Christ’s sake it’s got to be a hundred degrees.

Nadine reaches the place she’s marked on her map with an X and pulls off the road. At a gas station, she fills the car and takes out her list of names. The man behind the counter, old and overweight, looks at Nadine without expression. He sells her a warm Coke. When she asks to use the bathroom, the man gestures with his hand. She walks behind the store, positioning her feet on either side of the fetid hole.

The village does not have paved roads, and Nadine’s head begins to hurt as she drives over uneven ground. She sees a group of men gathered outside one thatched-roof home. The men stare as Nadine approaches. Nadine slows the car and tries a smile. She is met with stone faces.

The thoughts flood her—Something is wrong. You should have told Ian where you were going. You should not have come alone. Back away, put on the vest—but the thoughts will fade. Nadine sets her jaw and keeps driving.

The men look at one another, at the approaching Honda. By some consensus, they rush the car, and Nadine tries to stop, to reach the locks. It is too late, but she grabs the gearshift, smoothly putting the car in reverse.

As she presses the gas, a tall man wearing a Cookie Monster  T-shirt opens the passenger-side door. His sweat smells metallic as he climbs in the car. He unlocks the driver’s-side door, reaching across Nadine. The door is opened from outside. Two men drag Nadine out of the car and into the street. She fights—clawing at the men with her fingernails, screaming that she is periodista, a journalist. Their fists hit her stomach, and then her rib cage.

Reading Group Guide

1. If you have read Ward’s previous novels, How to Be Lost and Sleep Toward Heaven, did you find similarities between them and Forgive Me? How would you describe Ward’s writing style? To which other writers would you compare her work?

2. Was the depiction of apartheid in Forgive Me consistent with what you have heard or read, or did it change your sense of the conditions? Was the South Africa of the novel familiar or new to you?

3. Ward says she was compelled by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s model, “the concept of telling the truth and being set free.” What were your impressions of the TRC? Can you imagine how hearing a perpetrator’s story in his or her own words might influence your judgment of a crime?

4. How does forgiveness figure into the novel? Who seeks forgiveness? Who is able to forgive? Did the novel make you think about forgiveness in your own life?

5. What did you think of the Irvings? Could you forgive someone who killed a loved one?

6. After finishing the novel, did your reading of the epigraph change?

7. Did your feelings about Nadine change over the course of the novel? What parts of her character do you relate to the most? Does she do anything you found morally questionable?

8. One reviewer wrote that upon finishing Forgive Me, “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.” Did you reread sections of the novel morethan once, uncovering clues? How did the journal entries affect the unfolding story for you? What about them did you find most poignant? Misleading? Illuminating?

9. There are many ambitions in this novel—from Nadine and Maxim’s commitment to capturing the ravages of war, to Thola’s dancing career, to the aspirations charted in the “Nantucket to Stardom” entries. How does ambition define the characters in Forgive Me? How does it disappoint them?

10. In many ways motherhood is at the heart of this book. What do the mothers in the novel—Ann, Fikile, Sophia, Lily, and ultimately Nadine—have in common? How do their circumstances and choices distinguish them from one another?

11. How does growing up without a mother affect Nadine? In what ways does she seem to reconsider the role of a mother? Did you find the path she chooses unexpected or inevitable? Does it resonate with your own experience of reconciling work and family life?

12. Do you think Thola loved George? What struck you most about their story?

Customer Reviews

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Forgive Me 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Amanda Ward's Forgive Me starts with a bang (or a punch, to be more precise) it grabbed me by the end of its spare and haunting three-page chapter one and never let up. Through Nadine Morgan, a journalist who returns to post-apartheid South Africa, drawn by the ghosts of her own past as well as those of the country's history, Ward delivers a story about relationships and motherhood and love, and about the temptation to forget and the redemption of remembering. A compelling, thought-provoking read!
readingrebecca on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Amanda Eyre Ward has written an interesting story about Nadine Morgan, a journalist who has traveled the world in search of the next big story, making sure nothing ties her down. After being badly beaten in Mexico, she returns to Cape Cod to the home of her father and his girlfriend. Nadine's mother died when she was quite young and she was raised by a father who dealt with his grief by working all the time. While on Cape Cod, she meets Dr. Duarte who is taking care of the injuries received in Mexico. There is a mutual attraction between the two. But first Nadine feels she must return to South Africa which she left 10 years ago after a tragedy. She is going to cover the Truth and Reconcilation Commission hearings regarding the death of Jason Irving, a teacher from Cape Cod. Jason's parents are flying to South Africa to attend the TRC and Nadine is determined to interview them.This story is told in the present (mid 1990's)and in flashbacks, with interesting enteries from a journal. I am embarrassed to admit before this book I had read nothing about apartheid. Ms. Ward tells in gripping detail some of the atrocities carried out by both sides, atrocities you will not soon forget. Overall I thought this was a good book. The story was interesting. I felt the characters were well drawn and fully developed. And I particularly liked the way the author pulled everything together in the end. Overall I would recommend this book to family and friends.
angstrat on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Nadine Gordon becomes a journalist in part to escape her Cape Cod childhood and see the world. When she is badly injured in Mexico, she finds herself back at Cape Cod. A burgeoning romance with Dr. Duarte causes her to question her wandering existence. When Nadine reads a story about Jason Irving, an American teacher who was killed in South Africa during Nadine's stint there, she finds that she must go back and tell his story, as well as confront her past. Irving's parents are set to appear at the hearing of Jason's killers in front of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Nadine is determined to tell their story, despite the opposition of Jason's mother.I did enjoy Ward's writing style and her characterization of Nadine, as well as a glimpse into the process of the Truth and Reconciliation Program. However, I felt that the demons that Nadine was in South Africa to confront were not worthy of the build-up given to them. In addition, I found a later subplot to be both confusing and extraneous to the story. Overall, though, it was a fast, suspenseful read.
sammimag on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I really didn't care for the book all that much. It wasn't a terrible read but I didn't jell for me. The book was disjointed and the characters didn't compel me at all. It did touch on an interesting subject of apartheid but it didn't come together in the end. I actually liked the sub plot part of the book, but didn't understand the purpose, because the characters were compelling.
KathyWoodall on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Nadine Morgan gets beaten with in a inch of her life while covering a story in Mexico. She goes home and stays with her father for awhile and then leaves for Cape Town to cover a hearing on whether a black woman covicted of killing white man should go free. The story would have been a lot more interesting if the author would have dealt more with the hearing and less with the self centered main charater of Nadine.
LiteraryFeline on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Amanda Eyre Ward takes difficult subject matter and writes in such a way that makes it easy to digest while at the same time, not taking away from the gravity of it. Forgive Me is the story of Nadine, a journalist who is used to being on the front line. She is a proud woman who leads an exciting life chasing down stories and putting her life in peril. She rarely takes time out to actually live her own life and face her own fears. Her mother died when Nadine was a young girl, after which her father spent more time working than raising his daughter. Nadine longed to leave Woods Hole, Massachusetts where she grew up, wanting to see the world as her mother once longed to do. Nadine made that dream come true, never looking back. When a brutal assault leaves her in need of bed rest and healing, she finds herself back in Woods Hole under the care of her father and his girlfriend. Nadine wants nothing more than to get back to work. Befriending the local doctor, Hank Duarte, Nadine finds a comfort she had not expected to find, and yet she still feels confused and alone.When news reaches her that the parents of Jason Irving will be traveling to South Africa to argue against amnesty for one of their son¿s murderers, Nadine¿s mind is made up. She is determined to travel to South Africa to follow the story that she had first reported on all those years ago. During a time when apartheid was at its height, Jason Irving, an American teacher, was beaten to death by a group of angry youth. His murderers did not care that he was against apartheid, they only cared that his skin was white and believed his death would lead to the end of their oppression. Several years later, in an effort to promote democracy in the country, the new South African government enlisted the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to revisit old crimes of violence. Victims could come forward to seek justice and perpetrators of violence could request amnesty.With her return to South Africa, Nadine is forced to face her own past, the tragedy and pain that she has had to live with all the years in between. Forgive Me is the perfect title for a book that in many ways speaks of redemption. Amanda Eyre Ward¿s story is multi-layered, each character being complex and their stories just as much so. She has created a cast of characters who are interesting and real. At one point in the novel Gwen, Nadine¿s father¿s girlfriend, comments that Nadine is like an onion with multiple layers. The author deftly demonstrates this as the story unfolds, the narrative weaving from the past to the present (present being the late 1990¿s), with an occasional journal entry that adds an unexpected and more complex layer. The author¿s easy writing style makes this book a quick read, however it is not one that will sit lightly with the reader once the last page is read. The racial issues and violence of apartheid from both sides are explored as well as the recovery and healing process once that period in time has come to a close. Forgive Me is a moving novel that has heart and punch. It is well worth reading.
bobbieharv on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I only read this because it was set in South Africa, but ended up skimming it. The plot was bizarre and didn't really hang together; the writing was ordinary. My favorite part was the kid's journal, but I never did understand how it related to the overall story of the murder of a student in South Africa. And the heroine's need to seduce one man after another got on my nerves.
msbaba on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Nadine Morgan, the character at the heart of Amanda Eyre Ward¿s latest novel Forgive Me, is not a likeable protagonist¿but that¿s the whole point. This is a book about forgiveness. Before redemption can occur, the main character has to live through, and eventually realize the extent of her wrongdoings. Readers are able take a fictional journey with her during this process. Along the way, we get to know a woman with a seriously flawed moral compass¿a woman who consistently gets into situations in which she walks all over people¿s innermost feelings. Eventually, we arrive with her at her moment of self-discovery¿the point in her life when she begins to see the errors of her ways and starts to imagine a path toward redemption. This is a very interesting journey, and obviously it is one that most people would never make on their own. Thankfully, we have fiction to take us there! We come into Nadine¿s life when she is 35 years old. She is already a successful career journalist who specializes in getting the tough stories in the bloodiest and most dangerous corners of the world. The book starts near Mexico City, where Nadine is beaten to within an inch of her life by drug lords. The next thing she knows, she is in her hometown, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, being cared for by her father and his live-in girlfriend. She panics and wants out immediately. She¿s an adrenaline junkie missing out on whole world of action-packed news stories. For Nadine, Woods Hole might as well be Hell. She can¿t stand living with her father and his companion. She starts to detest her childhood best friend for her simple homemaker¿s life. Out of desperation, more than anything else, Nadine has an affair with Hank, the doctor who is taking care of her. He ends up falling in love with her. But she abandons him, and all the other loving people in Woods Hole that care so much about her. She does this so easily and thoughtlessly it takes your breath away. Before you know it, Nadine is flying off to South Africa to follow a developing page-one news story. The rest of the novel deals with two fast-paced interlocking stories: one full of some of the worst that the world can offer in manipulation, betrayal, and physical violence, the other full of childhood innocence. The juxtaposition and symbiosis of these two completely antithetical storylines creates enormous tension. It helps that the reader is allowed to keep one foot in a world of innocent childhood normalcy, while the other is uncomfortably dangling in an unsavory and violent world most of us would rather know as little about as possible. In South Africa, Nadine tries to get the best angle possible on a big international news article about two grieving American parents returning to South Africa to fight against amnesty for their son¿s killers. It¿s been ten years since a mob of black South African teenagers murdered their son and the perpetrators were sent to jail. At the time, it was at the height of Apartheid. Ironically, the young American had come to South Africa to fight against Apartheid, but he was killed merely because he was white and in the wrong place at the wrong time. The secondary storyline consists of excerpts from a journal entitled "Nantucket to Stardom." It is best not to reveal too much about this journal, even though it takes up a considerable portion of the novel¿s overall content. Trust that this second storyline is important, and don¿t overlook the details. All will make sense in the end. Don¿t read this novel if you hope to gain insight into the history of Apartheid. This novel will tell you (perhaps more than you may want to know) about routine atrocities that were committed during that time, but Ward will not give you any insight into the political environment that surrounded that era. Ward never tarries from her focus relentlessly pushing the plot forward.What Ward does best here is character development. In this book, the author creates Nadine Morgan, a completely believab
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prettybrowneyes More than 1 year ago
This book was captivating. The author ties in the future and the present at the same time, which lead to the conclusion to the story. The main character is nonchalant, but decisive. Forgive Me is a reminder of how journalists informs the people of what's going on in our world.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book captured my attention from the very beginning!! I could not put it down!! Wonderfully written!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is beautifully written and touches on the wide variety of emotions a human can feel toward the very things they love, and how the very things they love can change a person's view on life completely. The honesty and raw emotions in Forgive Me leave the reader longing for more... both on the pages and in their own lives.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nadine Morgan is a woman who can't pass up a fresh, vital new story! Her best friend, Lilly, tells her she's just running away, escaping from fear of eventually settling down. Even after Nadine is seriously injuried while covering a story in Mexico, she still feels the compulsive call of another story. For Nadine is very, very good at what she does and right now she's got a choice to make. Will she return to South Africa where Bishop Desmond Tutu's amesty trials, better known as the Truth and Reconciliation Committee hearings, are in full swing? Will she remain with Harold, the first man she could possibly see herself marrying, having children, in all settling down with? There's one particular story that's demanding her attention, the story of an American boy, Jason, who was murdered in broad daylight during a riot of furious native Africans reacting after years of apartheid brutality. Contrived as it may seem, his parents share his journal spanning his teens and young adult years with Nadine. The combination of his aspirations and the questions, fears, dreams and violence she meets on her second arrival makes for riveting albeit predictable reading. The ending, however, will leave every reader shocked and silent with the essence of just what all this contemporary violence is really about. While there may not be so much unusual in the plot line, Amanda Eyre Ward does a superb job at plumbing the depths of fury, misunderstanding, forgiveness and shared grief! The result changes Nadine's life and choices forever! Unforgettable and all too real!!! Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on February 25, 2008
harstan More than 1 year ago
Thirtyish international journalist Nadine travels the hot spots of the globe in pursut of the story. However, when she journeyed to a small village outside Mexico City to interview the parents of twelve recently murdered young boys, two thugs battered her breaking ribs and more. When Nadine regains consciousness she finds herself in the Cape Cod B&B owned by her estranged father and his fiancée. Dr. Duarte provides her needed medical care.----------------- Nadine feels this is the last place she wants to be while healing. She reads in the paper an article on a local couple traveling to Cape Town, South Africa to attend the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. The pair needs to hear why a black woman killed their white son in 1988. Nadine feels a deep need to cover the story so without official backing, she flies to Cape Town, a place where she lost the love of her life. She meets grieving Americans who give her their late son¿s boyhood journal.------------------ FORGIVE ME is an interesting morality drama starring an interesting protagonist who believes the story comes before her safety although her Mexican incident has left her with doubts. The tale cleverly uses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings to spotlight Apartheid, but could have been any prejudicial ism especially state sponsored. The journal that the parents give Nadine leads to her reflecting back on her failed relationships with her father and her soulmate. Although some spins feel forced and false, fans will appreciate Amanda Eyre Ward¿s deep look at motivation of individuals and countries.--------------- Harriet Klausner
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
A remarkable voice performance by actress Ann Marie Lee make this compelling story even more memorable. Her voice, is young, plaint, innocent, which makes the assault on Nadine all the more terrible. She reads the account of the beating calmly, cooly, as the author's words aptly describe the horror Nadine experiences. Had she attempted to inject fear or pain into her narration, the effect on the listener would not have been as powerful. The mark of an experienced actress! Lee has also mastered the pronunciation of Spanish names and places, adding to the story's authenticity. With an apartment in the Associated Press compound in Mexico City, which she hasn't seen in a month, Nadine is in pursuit of another story. After consulting her topographic map she drives toward a small village. She is alone, and has told no one where she is going. Stopping to ask directions she is confronted by a group of men who stare, hesitating only briefly before a tall man in a Cookie Monster T-shirt reaches into her car. In seconds the others are beating her, pounding her stomach, her rib cage. She is left to die in a ditch. It's understood that Nadine Morgan is tough, a hard nosed news hawk who will do anything, go anywhere for the all important story. Steeliness is accepted, but where is her sense? To drive into unknown terrain alone with no one knowing her whereabouts? Nonetheless, the next time she is aware she's home in Woods Hole being tended to by her father and his girlfriend. She has a brief relationship with the doctor who sees to her, but what is love compared to a big story? As the narrative switches back and forth in time and place, we hear that Nadine took her father to the Oyster Bar to tell him of her plan: 'So I've decided,' said Nadine. 'I'm going to Cape Town.' 'Cape Town?' 'I'll be freelancing, of course, but maybe it'll lead to a job with the AP, or the Times. People are fighting the pass laws, standing up to the government. Remember that kid from Nantucket? Jason Irving? He was killed outside Cape Town last month. Everything is changing in South Africa. There's so much to write about.' Jim sighed. 'That kid from Nantucket,' he said. 'Poor kid comes home in a coffin. This is your role model?' Nadine didn't find death in Cape Town - what she found was heartbreak. Her lover, Maxim, a successful photographer, was killed while at the site of a gun battle, and Jason Irving, an American teacher, was killed by a mob. Tragedy is all she discovered in Cape Town. Now, following Mexico it has been years since her first visit to Cape Town, and one of Jason's killers is scheduled for an amnesty hearing. Jason's parents are, understandably furious, and fly to Cape Town to battle for justice for their son. Nadine also returns to South Africa, hoping to interview the parents. However, she had not considered what her feelings might be for the mother of one of the killers. Amanda Eyre Ward is a crafty author - she doesn't answer questions but tells a disquieting story, leaving the listener to ponder the age old questions of forgiveness and redemption. - Gail Cooke