Forgive Me Not
Author: Jennifer Baker
Published: August 15, 2023
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 30-August 19, 2023
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
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. As a juvenile offender, her fate is 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, potentially regaining her freedom and what she wants most of all, her family’s love. But the Trials are no easy feat and in the quest to prove her remorse, Violetta is forced to confront not only her family’s pain, but her own—and the question of whether their forgiveness is more important than forgiving herself.
Forgive Me Not is a YA novel with a bit of dystopian touches that shows the problems the juvenile justice system (and also our adult system) has in regards to sexism, racism, classism, and more.
We have two povs: Violetta and Vince. They are siblings and Violetta (also called Letta) made a huge life changing error: She did some underage drinking and driving. There was an accident and she killed her seven year old sister in the process. Therefore Letta is in detention. The chapter’s from Letta’s pov include how many days she has been in detention. Vince’s pov shows how many days since Letta has been in detention. This was we have two povs: The ‘victim’ and the ‘offender’.
In this world that both Violetta and Vince live in, underage offenders serve in detention while they await their sentencing. This sentencing comes from the victim/ family of the victim. The choices the victim’s side has:
Serve hard time upstate
‘The Trials’ where the offender has to prove themself.
In Violetta’s case she is the offender and her family is the victim with the loss of her little sister. With the two povs we get to see both sides of the story: ‘offender’ and ‘victim’.
There are so many issues dealt with in this story. In addition to the issues with the justice system which we see extreme injustices with one particular character we also experience drug use/abuse, peer pressure, LGBTQ representation and a variety of family dynamics.
Vince seems to be the ‘dream child’ to his parents, but he is far from perfect himself with a variety of problems of his own. Some of these issues are left open even though we do have a reasonable conclusion.
I highly anticipated ‘The Trials’ and what was going to happen. The family of the ‘victim’ chooses the type of trial(s) the ‘offender’ goes through but not what the Trial is made up of. Everyone’s Trial is different and had no idea what to expect for Violetta. This is where the dystopian elements come in to play. Could this possibly be what juvenile offenders deal with in the not to distant future?Overall, this is a powerful book that will be the cause of discussions and more. Will Violetta’s family be able to forgive her for what she did? Even more so, can Violetta forgive herself with the decisions she made that changed so much.
Many thanks to the publisher for granting me a copy to read and review via Bookish First.