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4.0 

Forgive Me Not

By Jennifer Baker
Forgive Me Not by Jennifer Baker digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

In this searing indictment of the juvenile justice system, one teen in detention weighs what she is willing to endure for forgiveness.

All it took was one night and one bad decision for fifteen-year-old Violetta Chen-Samuels’ life to go off the rails. After driving drunk and causing the accident that kills her little sister, Violetta is incarcerated. Under the juvenile justice system, her fate lies in the hands of those she’s wronged—her family. With their forgiveness, she could go home. But without it? Well . . .

Denied their forgiveness, Violetta is now left with two options, neither good—remain in juvenile detention for an uncertain sentence or participate in the Trials. The Trials are no easy feat, but if she succeeds, she could regain both her freedom and what she wants most of all: her family’s love. In her quest to prove her remorse, Violetta is forced to confront not only her family’s grief, but her own—and the question of whether their forgiveness is more important than forgiving herself.

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14 Reviews

4.0
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Believable charactersCharacters change and growDiverse charactersLikable charactersMulti-layered charactersBeautifully writtenDescriptive writingAddictiveUnpredictableRealistic setting
“4.5 stars I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Review based on final copy. All opinions are my own. I originally requested Forgive Me Not with a vague idea of the premise about racial justice and prison reform, but somehow the dystopian elements went over my head. But given the general whiteness of many dystopian works, I’m glad this book exists, exploring how deeply dysfunctional the current systems are now, and that it’s not just a what-if scenario, even if some situations depicted here are somewhat speculative. I love how the story uses a single family to explore the different flaws in the justice system for non-white people, especially Black people. There’s a lot of nuance, exploring the question of what if the decisions around punishment for offenders was put in the hands of the victims’ families, and would it make for a fairer society, and complicating the issue further by having the victim and perpetrator be from the same family. Violetta is very well-drawn, and her story shows how extreme and unforgiving the system can be. While there is obviously a debate about the severity of the offense of drunk driving, especially when it does lead to a person’s death, I like how the story shows her navigating her personal guilt and grief over causing her sister’s death, even if she didn’t intend to, and working within the dysfunctional system to gain her family’s forgiveness. Initially I did wonder about what Vince’s perspective added to the narrative, other than contrasting Violetta’s and showing how the rest of the family picked up the pieces. But as the blurb promises, he ends up dealing with issues of his own with addiction, and ends up on the wrong side of the law because of it, highlighting how often, instead of being able to get help, addicts are punished, and the system makes recidivism much more likely, thus continuing the cycle. However, in spite of the bleak real-life odds, I appreciate how the story approaches these topics with the gravitas it deserves, while also providing an optimistic, believable ending for the characters to move forward. This was a deeply moving read, and I’d recommend it to those looking for a nuanced, engaging take on racial issues and the juvenile prison system.”

About Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker is a publishing professional of twenty years, the creator and host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and editor of the short story anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life. She has volunteered with organizations such as We Need Diverse Books and I, Too, Arts Collective, and spoken widely on topics of inclusion, the craft of writing, podcasting, and the inner workings of the publishing industry. Her fiction, nonfiction, and criticism have appeared in various print and online publications.

Other books by Jennifer Baker

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