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May We be Forgiven by A. M. Homes

May We be Forgiven (original 2012; edition 2012)

by A. M. Homes

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6634914,475 (3.6)120
Title:May We be Forgiven
Authors:A. M. Homes
Info:Granta Books (2012), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Tags:American society

Work details

May We Be Forgiven: A Novel by A.M. Homes (2012)


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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Parts of this book were one star, parts were fives stars, so making a decision was difficult. I settled on four because for the most part, I did enjoy reading it, although 300 pages would have been sufficient to cover the plot. Writing a review is even more difficult. I can't really even say what the book was about. It is one year in the life of a family that gives new meaning to the term "dysfunctional" and new meaning to the term "family." Harold, the main character suddenly finds himself as the guardian of his niece and nephew, after his brother is committed to a mental hospital facing murder charges for the death of his wife and the deaths of two people whose car he hit while drunk. Harold is not the completely innocent bystander. The story is sometimes laugh out loud funny and sometimes so unbelievably absurd that all I could do was groan. But interspersed were some very good monologues that were really quite profound. So if you want to read a book about Alzheimer's, pedophilia, conspiracy theory regarding JFK, espionage, arms dealing, the life of Richard Nixon, internet sex, telephone sex, homosexuality, colonialism in Africa, bar mitzvahs, boarding schools, identity theft, nudist clubs, free love, transgender children, dyslexia, foster care and missing children - then this is your book. But it is also about the love that can grow among diverse people when brought together under extremely unusual circumstances. ( )
  TheresaCIncinnati | Aug 17, 2015 |
Just recently re-read "May We Be Forgiven", one of my top 5 books of 2014, and loved it even more the second time around. Originally, my book club chose this to read in June 2014. I was hesitant when I first started reading it, to be honest, as the writing style was very different than what I was used to reading at the time. I remember thinking it was sooooo strangely bizarre, the storyline wasn't like anything I'd normally choose to read on my own. I was so glad that I didn't give up, after just a few chapters I became completely hooked and couldn't stop reading! The most twisted, hilarious, and far fetched things happen to this odd family and I couldn't get enough!! This book has so many story lines and plot twists that revolve around social class, racism, religion, crime, family, abuse, sex, etc. that it would spark many great discussions for a book club!! It's certainly not for everyone though, you'd have to enjoy reading books with very dark humor and not offend easily in order to like this one. If you fit in that category and are looking for something new or different, then please, please give this one a try! ( )
  jenladuca | May 22, 2015 |
Strange. I stumbled over "This book will save your life" and found it strange and odd. I still picked up "May we be forgiven". Something must have fascinated me about Holmes painting of a picture with people who's life gets put upside down.

This story is about a man who's life changes because of his brother's actions. He takes on great responsibility and the life changing events triggered by his brother change his life and turn it around.

I found some of the storyline too far fetched. But maybe that's the fascination of it all? ( )
  PeterNZ | May 11, 2015 |
I read this book after reading a favourable review in, I think, the FT and, more important, enjoying This Book May Change Your Life immensely. I was a bit disappointed. The book shares quite a lot with TBMCYL - a male narrator, a 'major incident', the coming together of a disparate group of people, unlikely, and rather uncommitted, sexual relationships and a gradual working out of a modus vivendi which offers some kind of salvation for the main protagonists. The writing is polished and the plot well constructed but the earlier book was a better story. I didn't get a lot more out of this one. ( )
  abbottthomas | May 5, 2015 |
A little far-fetched and just downright bizarre at times, but still, an overall wonderful ride of a book, through all the complexities of the family you are born into, and the one you create. This reminded me in many ways of Homes's other novels, filled with disenchanted suburbanites, unlikely friendships, ramifications of horrific decisions (and some good ones too) and at the core, the desire to find better and do better. Uncomfortable sex, dark humor, bad habits and poking fun at all kinds of spiritual paths abound, but what I think her novels do ultimately, is lighten me up. Yes, life can be hard, but truly, it is what you make of it. Highly recommended for awesome entertainment and escaping into other people's really weird lives. She also writes incredibly well not only from a male perspective, but her teenager/child characters are frighteningly real. ( )
  CarolynSchroeder | Feb 19, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)

Almost exactly three-quarters of the way through this wonderful, wild, heartbreaking, hilarious and astonishing novel, A M Homes gives us this paragraph: "And then – the real craziness starts. Later, I will wonder if this part really happened or if I dreamed it."

Given the huge amount of craziness in the 355 pages that precedes that paragraph, this really sets the reader up for a humdinger of a finale, one that Homes delivers with aplomb.....This is a piercing, perceptive and deeply funny novel about the nature of life, and about finding your family wherever you can, wherever you get comfort and something approaching love.
The narrative is unrelenting, and yet it makes a kind of sense that all these troubles should be brought to bear on a few individuals. What’s interesting about this book is that for all its ferocious now-ness, its messages are old fashioned. Peace is found in a South African village, amongst community and participation; acts of kindness bring their own rewards. Homes, however, is not a pious or a schmaltzy writer – she is aware that things are compromised, as when George’s son Nate realises that the South African villagers he’s been supporting are really only interested in what material goods they can buy. But this doesn’t detract from the morality of the book’s core. Only connect, Homes tells us, and we can escape the nightmare of the 21st century – if only for a while. .....AM Homes’s ambitious novel, May We Be Forgiven, impresses.
To pair sociological sweep with psychological intimacy, as this book sets out to do, is a laudable ambition. It may even be where the vital center of American fiction is, circa 2012. But Homes hasn’t yet developed the formal vocabulary to reconcile her Cheever side and her DeLillo side. Instead, they end up licensing each other’s failures, canceling each other out. And so what might have been a stereoscopic view of The Way We Live Now ends as an ungainly portmanteau: a picaresque in which nothing much happens, a confession we can’t quite believe, a satire whose targets are already dead.
And the novel is consistently interesting in more sombre ways, too, as when Harry discusses the "rusty sense of disgust" that he suspects might be his soul. May We Be Forgiven is a semi-serious, semi-effective, semi-brilliant novel which could not be called, overall, an artistic success. But you'd have to have no sense of the absurd, and no sense of humour, not to be pretty impressed.
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For Claudia to whom I owe a debt of gratitude
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Do you want my recipe for disaster?
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Book description
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 the brothers are hurled into entirely new lives in which they both must seek absolution.
Harry finds himself suddenly playing parent to his brother's two adolescent children, tumbling - hilariously -
down the rabbit hole of Internet sex, and dealing with aging parents who move through time like travelers on a fantastic voyage. Never having realized he was lost, he slowly starts to open up to the world around him, to rise to the occasion and take some risks. As Harry builds a new life and a modern family created by choice rather than biology, we become aware of the ways in which our history, both personal and political, can become our destiny and compel us to either repeat our errors or be the catalyst for change.
In this bold, playful, tenderhearted, and redemptive novel, by turns rollicking and serious and filled with all of her signature touches and flourishes, A.M. Homes digs deeply into themes of the American family, the near biblical intensity of fraternal relationships, our need to make sense of things, and our craving for connection. May We Be Forgiven is an unnerving, funny tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.
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Feeling overshadowed by his more-successful younger brother, Harold is shocked by his brother's violent act that irrevocably changes their lives, placing Harold in the role of father figure to his brother's adolescent children and caregiver to his aging parents.… (more)

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