#BookReview: Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Spielman


As the host of a New Orleans morning show, Hannah Phar is a local celebrity. She’s carefully cultivated the perfect image for her viewers and for her boyfriend, Michael – who’s the Mayor. Unbeknownst to those around her, guilt and anger simmer under Hannah’s placid facade. Michael has yet to ask Hannah to marry him, and his teenage daughter Abbey mocks her every chance she gets. Her ratings are slipping, and there’s a younger, prettier version of Hannah at the station who’s gunning for her job. Adding to Hannah’s inner turmoil are the forgiveness stones that sit in her desk drawer…

Hannah was bullied in high school and her tormenter, Fiona Knowles, has become a famous “forgiveness expert” with her concept of the forgiveness stones. Fiona sent two stones and a letter to Hannah, to ask for forgiveness of her past cruelty. If Hannah forgives her, she must send one stone back to Fiona and the other to someone Hannah has wronged. Hannah has trouble with forgiveness. She’s never forgiven her ex-fiancé for cheating, her mother for abandoning her, or her stepfather for his unforgiveable acts. When a live television interview becomes much too personal, Hannah reveals secrets from her past that threaten to hurt everyone in her life. Will Hannah realize that she must admit her mistakes before asking for forgiveness?

sweet forgivenessAllie’s Review:

This is one of the most cleverly plotted books that I’ve read in a very long time. The author’s concept of the forgiveness stones is genius! Is this a real thing? If not, it should be. I really enjoyed reading about all the events that occurred that caused the characters to ask for forgiveness. And Hannah’s secret nugget, for which she seeks redemption, is a big one. Her comeuppance on live TV and its aftermath made me squirm as I turned the pages. There is one tiny aspect of her revelation that didn’t sit well with me. I thought she showed surprising restraint when it came to following through on her journey of finding the truth about her childhood. That’s all I can say, because I don’t want to give away too much. Realistically, I understand that there are some events in life that will remain a mystery.

Most of the characters in this novel are genuine and complicated, with many flaws – which is what I loved about them. There are few people who came across as cartoonishly stereotypical, but I’ve read enough over the years about journalists and politicians to know that the author is probably dead on with their portrayals. The theme of forgiveness resonated with me, because I’ve personally struggled with it, yet I understand the healing power that it has. The turmoil in in Hannah’s personal life was interesting, heartbreaking, and sometimes even fun. As for her professional life, eeek! I’m glad I never worked in broadcast news.

This was a smart, entertaining, and enlightening read.

5 stars

Annie’s Review:

Brilliant idea for a story!  I had to look back at the inside cover to confirm this was a work of fiction!  Lori Nelson Spielman weaved a story of forgiveness towards yourself and others.  It all begins with “The Forgiveness Stones” story written by Fiona Knowles, and I really loved the idea behind them.

This is how it worked ~  You would receive an apology letter for some past wrong doing to you that the writer is seeking forgiveness; along with the letter you get a pouch with two stones.  You are to return one stone to the initial writer IF and WHEN you forgive them.   The other stone is for you to seek forgiveness from someone.  Falling in love with this idea made it very hard for me not to enjoy reading this story.

Hannah Farr is the main character of this story, and she is a news personality with her own talk show in Louisiana.  Her ratings are dropping and her boss, Stuart is making it very clear that she needs to increase her ratings.  How far will she go to increase these numbers?

Fiona Knowles wrote 35 apology letters to begin her “research” on the forgiveness stones.  Hannah Farr is a recipient of one of these letters, yet it takes her two years to get back to Fiona…and, only when she needs to gain something from doing so.

I really appreciated this story, I respected the idea behind it, and I loved all that is represented.  I walked away wondering who I would send these stones to.  Nothing like a book that makes you think!!

Kudos, Lori Nelson Spielman!

5 Stars

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