Book Review: May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes
After reading May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes, I will never look at my favorite Thanksgiving side dish the same way again.
From Goodreads: A darkly comic novel of twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation. Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his younger brother, George, a taller, smarter, and more successful high-flying TV executive, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. But Harry, a historian and Nixon scholar, also knows George has a murderous temper, and when George loses control the result is an act of violence so shocking that both brothers are hurled into entirely new lives in which they both must seek absolution.
This is one of those books where it's kind of like those links Perez Hilton posts on Facebook. You know it's probably going to be shocking and slightly scary, but you can't help but keep going.
The main character, Harold, is a brutally honest, sad man. He's a total creep but I still loved him the entire time, even when he was acting like an ass. He falls in love with his brother's wife. When his brother ruins his family, Harold has to transform his entire life to help safe what is left. At first I thought Harold was going to totally fail. He starts finding women online to have sex with and goes into zombie mode when he's supposed to taking care of his niece and nephew. But A.M. Homes writes this book in a way that has you riveted the entire time, so even in the middle of Harold acting like a total ass, the fast paced writing and quick switching scene make sure you never lose interest. Just when you get frustrated with a character or disgusted with a situation, BOOM, it moves on to the next twist in the plot.
So Harold finds himself suddenly divorced (he was totally bored with his wife and life anyway, he just didn't know it so it really was for the best) and now taking care of two kids and a house in the suburbs. Not to mention, his once successful brother is now in a mental institution. He's dealing with a lot of sorrow and confusion and does some questionable things that make you think he's not exactly stable himself. But then he starts to grow as a man and he does the most amazing acts of kindness for people. He picks up a homeless girl who turns out to likely be the one who disappeared and has an Amber alert out for her. He meets a housewife on an online dating site, sleeps with her and then ends up having dinner with her and her entire family. He takes in an older couple and gives them a place to live when they are abandoned by their granddaughter. He takes his nephew on a trip of a lifetime for his bar mitzvah.
In doing all of these amazing things for other people, Harold fixes himself without even realizing it.
I can't remember another book whose characters were so memorizing. Harold's brother is a complete and utter psycho. He actually scared me. The two teenagers in the book are incredibly endearing and I fell in love with the way they changed Harold's life.
This book is like one of those awesome episodes of Intervention. You know, the ones where the back story is totally riveting and then you get super pissed off at the addicted person for royally screwing over their family members...and then little by little they start recovering and at the end, you get chills when the plane takes off to rehab and then cry when the screen goes black and the little white letters tell you they've been sober for months now and have reunited with their family. May We Be Forgiven is like that.
I found May We Be Forgiven because I read in an interview with Chelsea Handler that she recently read it. Her description of the book immediately intrigued me:
"The first third is so serious and dark, and everyone's lives are in such disrepair. And then for it to get as funny as it got, I couldn't believe it. I love laughing alone — to know you can achieve that joy by yourself is always fun."
Chelsea Handler is pretty much me, only funnier and richer. So I knew that if she liked the book, then I would too. And she was right. I shuddered in fear and sadness and laughed my way through this book.