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This review was written by Whatever After reader Kareba, 16. She read the new novel by Celia Rees, This is Not Forgiveness.
This is Not Forgiveness - But a journey to the unexpected
Kareba says: Celia Rees' latest book is dark. Not dark in a Twilight, emo 'everything will be alright in the end' way, but really heavy. Right from the beginning you know that things are not going to end well. But the story isn't about where things end up, it's about how and more importantly, why they go the way they do.
It's a study of how teenagers get f**ked up - by their parents, by the world, and by each other. The main characters are all damaged but by different things that have affected them in different ways.
The love triangle the plot centres around is doomed from the beginning and you know it. Jamie and Rob are brothers who are both in love with same girl, Caro. She is intense and beautiful and manipulative and they both do whatever she wants, without even realising it. She's not easy to like and you kind of get why she is bullied and hated by Rob and Jamie's sister Martha. Although the book is written in three first person voices, the protagonist is Jamie because he is softest, kindest, and the only character who is self-aware.
This book is full of topical issues. War, bullying, drugs, sex and pretty much everything else people go on about in connection with teenagers today. It could be really patronising and moral but it isn't. The parents in the book are the most messed up of all, and there aren't any lessons to be learnt either. So much insane stuff happens in the world and Rees is trying to figure out what makes people go crazy.
Don't be put off by the war stuff or the issues- it's an intense ride, with a sudden and unexpected twist, but one well worth going on.