(2007), a novel by Amanda Eyre Ward, follows journalist Nadine, who is returning to South Africa for the first time in the years since a tragedy struck her personal and professional life in Cape Town. Nadine decides to return after hearing about the death of American student Jason Irving, who was beaten to death and whose murderers are requesting amnesty. Nadine follows the Irving family to Cape Town for the murder trial, becoming close friends with both Jason's mother and the mother of one of the murderers—which has consequences in her own life. Meanwhile, she is forced to grapple with the memories of South Africa that she left many years ago.
Nadine, a hot-shot journalist in her early 30s, is known for being drawn to the most volatile and violent news around the world. Nadine claims that she hasn't sustained any lasting damage from this lifestyle, but her friends and family are skeptical. Nadine is estranged from everyone in her life, including her family and best friend, Lily. Whenever things get emotional or complicated, Nadine picks up and heads into the latest crisis.
Nadine's choices have finally caught up to her when Forgive Me
begins. On a recent trip to Mexico, she was beaten and left in a ditch by members of a drug cartel on which she was reporting. She nearly died and had to return to her hometown of Woods Hole on Cape Cod to recuperate. On Cape Cod, her father owns a bed and breakfast, and Nadine finds herself involved in her first romantic relationship in quite some time. However, she cuts her recuperation period short when she finds out that the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission is beginning to try people convicted of crimes in the aftermath of Apartheid. Though Nadine has not been back to Cape Town in years, she knows she must see the trials, even though it means leaving her fledgling relationship behind.
In Cape Town, Nadine becomes close to the mother of the American student Jason Irving who was beaten to death brutally by black teenagers during Apartheid. Jason and his family have a strange connection to Nadine; Jason was also raised on Cape Cod. Nadine feels close to his mother and to her dead son. Jason's mother and father have come to Cape Town because her son's murderers are seeking amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Despite having beaten Jason to death, they want to walk free.
Understanding the messiness of this trial, Nadine wants to follow it closely. Jason was a white man teaching in Cape Town at the time of his death; his murderer was a 15-year-old girl. Nadine soon finds herself bonding not only with the Irving family, but also with the mother of the murderer, who wants amnesty for her child. As Nadine becomes connected to mothers on both sides of the trial, this conflict of interest begins to cause conflict in her daily life.
As the trial progresses, Nadine is forced to face her own demons; particularly the ones she left behind in Cape Town many years before. Nadine left the love of her life in South Africa. Through her memories, the book tells the story of that time in her life and the emotions that led her to leave the country without saying goodbye. As Nadine grapples with the trial, Jason Irving's death, and her own inability to connect emotionally even to the people she loves the most, she finally finds some forgiveness—both for those who have committed atrocities and for herself.
Amanda Eyre Ward is the author of several novels, including How to Be Lost
, The Same Sky
, and Sleep Toward Heaven
. She has also published a collection of short stories, Love Stories in This Town
. Her books have been nominated for several awards, including Kirkus Best Books and Elle Magazine Best Fiction Book of the Year. She has also been a frequent Target Bookmarked Pick, among other honors. Born in New York, she has split her adult life between Austin, Texas, and New England. She was educated at Williams College and received her MFA at the University of Montana.