I haven’t read any other books by AM Homes who made a name for herself with her novel The End of Alice. I will read more by her, however, since I have read May We Be Forgiven. It is a read that starts on a roller-coaster ride of horrific events and ends up as a depiction of the tenuous strands of communication that keep us working as families and as a society.
At the start of the novel, we meet Harold Silver having Thanksgiving dinner at his brother, George’s, house. George on the surface has it all – prosperous job, beautiful wife, two adorable children, yet Harold shows us how disconnected they really are. Harold lusts after Jane, the children sit and play on their small screens during the meal and George shovels food into his mouth, bombastic. Jane gives Harold a long passionate kiss in the kitchen – ‘The kiss was serious, wet and full of desire. It was terrifying and unexpected‘.
A couple of hours later, Harold gets a phone call to fetch George from the police station. We never get the details of the car accident, but George has killed people. He get put in a psyche ward in hospital and, with him there, Harold stays with Jane in her house. When George gets discharged, he comes home to find Harold in bed with Jane and kills Jane with a lamp.
All awful, yes, but told with a delicious dark humour that kept me smiling through the depiction of dreadful events. After this climactic beginning, I began to wonder where on earth the book could go. It slows down after this, yet retains its dark humour, focusing on Harold’s life in which numerous bizarre events happen. He moves into George’s house, adopts his children and has to learn the delicacies of parenting grieving teenagers, takes on the dog, loses his wife. He explores internet dating, he takes the children to South Africa for Nate’s bar mitzvah, has two grandparents move into his house, takes custody of the child whose parents George killed.
The pace slows down and the writing becomes more reflective, focusing subtley on the disconnected relationships around him. It’s a curious read, one I was fascinated by even if sometimes I had to reign in my disbelief at the plot.