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Restorative Justice was a very, very difficult concept for me to accept as my mind said the perps deserved the greatest punishment and not forgiveness for their crimes.
While reading the story, I realized that it was not about that. It was about getting to understand where the perp came from and probably seeing them in a different light so that forgiveness could help the victim not lead their lives in bitterness. Still a difficult pill to swallow.
Claudia, her mum, and daughter had escaped an abusive husband and set up a new life in a new close-knit town. Life was good for them until someone lit a fire to their home, thinking it would send a message to all three of them, not knowing the grandma had come back.
Then started the anguish for all three, mostly for the grandma, who was burned on the left side of face, hand, and torso and needed multiple surgeries. The perp was arrested after his own mother gave the information to the cops. The Restorative Justice team came into picture, and that started the writing of letters from Archie, a nineteen year old boy, the perp, to Marcy, the grandma who was burned and now disfigured forever, the victim. Would forgiveness happen?
Susan Lewis had written a heart wrenching where at first I was so angry with Archie for committing such a heinous crime as being a doc, I hated burns and knew how difficult it was to save the patient. I got to know Marcy’s trials at each step of her surgeries, her pain and anguish poured through. I stood in the sidelines with tears down my face as she hated her face and the arm which didn’t work well. I could feel her deep pit of anger and need for revenge. I was completely on her side. I wanted vengeance.
But as Archie’s letters came through and I got to know his tough life and circumstances, my heart starting melting at how children were abused to the point they turned to crime. I condemned his act but empathized with him. All I had to see was if Claudia and Marcy could forgive him. Would they? Should they?
The story was beautiful in its treatment and amazing at the way a perp caused my heart to soften with pain and understanding for him. My words might not do justice to this tough way of the project. But I understood that forgiveness was essential for the victim.
All the characters stood up well to the circumstances that presented to them. The author could sway my emotions in all directions. The story swept me away completely with the power of its words.
A few minutes after finishing the book, I had to ask myself again if I believed in Restorative Justice. The first answer was still a resounding NO. So I leave you with a question.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN RESTORATIVE JUSTICE?
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I can’t forgive myself. Not after what I did. Could you?
This is Claudia Winters’s last chance for a fresh start. Changing her name and leaving her old life behind, she has fled to the small town of Kesterly with her mother and daughter. Here, she hopes they can be safe for the first time in years.
But the past can’t stay hidden forever. And even as Claudia makes new friends and builds a new life, she can’t help feeling it’s all about to catch up with her… Until one disastrous night changes everything forever.
Publication Date: November 2020
I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher, and this is my journey down its pages, straight from the heart. STRICTLY HONEST and UNBIASED.
All my reviews can be found here.
Excellent and thought-provoking review of an equally thought-provoking book, Shalini. My answer is no. I don’t believe in restorative justice. Criminals should be punished. Sure, there can be lightness or strictness of the punishment, but some kind of punishment should be there.
It was not about their punishment. it was about bringing the victim and criminal on a platform so that the victim could understand the circumstances of the criminal and get closure. Nothing to do with courts and punishment.
Well, how does the victim get closure if the criminal is not punished? The book is indeed thought-provoking.
What a moving and heart wrenching story. I can’t imagine what all characters might have gone through. wonderful review!
excellent review, Shalini, and way to posit an explosive subject. my answer No–not just no. Hell no! the CE is great for forgiving. i can neither forgive nor forget. even if i tried–it wouldn’t be sincere enough to give me any peace.
I too felt the same. We all had choices. I too went through some bad things where I wanted to destroy myself but I am thankful something stopped me. So from a situation where survival was a big question mark, I came out if it without hurting anyone to some extent, I think people can do that if they wanted to.
Thought provoking review, Shalini. For me it comes back to another basic question: why do some people who are abused then abuse others while some abused people overcome their past and lead happy, productive lives? Does it come full circle to forgiveness?
Linda, I can only tell you my experience. I kept bitterness and anger against the person who wronged me for many decades even after his death. But I became broken from inside not only by the incident but also by the anger. It took many years to forgive. Even today I am not sure I have completely forgiven, but I can’t allow that incident to define me. So Restorative Justice would have helped. A heartfelt sorry from the person may have helped. It would have helped me to tell that person how rotten and dirty I still felt, how I hate being touched. I want to scream and rant and slap, I would have liked an opportunity to describe my pain to the other person. But as said each day is different. Some days I am good, some days I hate everyone
“They” say forgiveness is as much for the victim as for the perpetrator. I’m sorry this person devastated you so thoroughly. May each day be a little less painful than the day before.