Book review: May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes


Tender hearted readers be warned: AM Homes‘s latest book opens with a series of dramatic events unveiled at such a breathless pace that you might feel you cannot keep up.

Henry is the narrator and the brother of George, a successful TV executive who Henry is well aware has a violent streak. Henry thus knows he is taking a risk kissing George’s wife. He takes even more of a risk when he subsequently beds her while George is away, George having killed two people in his car and been sectioned. Unfortunately, George escapes and on finding the two in bed together bashes his wife’s head in with a lamp. Henry escapes unharmed (at least physically). All of this occurs within the first fifteen pages of this 500 page novel.

Mercifully, the pace slows down after that and indeed as with Homes’s earlier This Book Will Save Your Life, relatively little happens throughout the rest of the book. In truth, it is not a harrowing read and is often quite funny. Henry helps his brother’s children come to terms with the tragedy and tries to make sense of things himself. In the meantime, he has some sex, helps his niece escape a predator on her school’s teachings staff and obsesses about the subject of his book and lifelong obsession: the life and career of Richard Nixon.

This is an enjoyable read from one of the United States’ finest contemporary novelists.

5 thoughts on “Book review: May We Be Forgiven by AM Homes

  1. This book has been on my list for a while, especially since reading an interview with the author in The Guardian a while back, see below link. Thanks for reminding me! If the following synopsis is anything to go by, from said Guardian interview, and your recommendation, then the book should be a smoking fire-cracker with a vibrating cherry on top. I’m definitely going in – Take my library books back if I don’t come out alive!

    “She ended up writing a story about a teenage boy who feels attracted to his sister’s Barbie, a doll that is a walking, talking, sentient being, albeit only 11.5 inches tall. He drugs the doll with Valium, and has sex with her. Then, one day, when Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend, has had his head removed, the boy ejaculates into the hole. This makes him wonder if he might be gay, which would seem the least of his worries.”

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