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Forgive Me Not (Hardcover)
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In this searing indictment of the juvenile justice system, one teen in detention weighs what she is willing to endure for forgiveness.
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. Under the juvenile justice system, her fate lies 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. The Trials are no easy feat, but if she succeeds, she could regain both her freedom and what she wants most of all: her family’s love. In her quest to prove her remorse, Violetta is forced to confront not only her family’s grief, but her own—and the question of whether their forgiveness is more important than forgiving herself.
About the Author
Jennifer Baker is a publishing professional of twenty years, the creator and host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and editor of the short story anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life. She has volunteered with organizations such as We Need Diverse Books and I, Too, Arts Collective, and spoken widely on topics of inclusion, the craft of writing, podcasting, and the inner workings of the publishing industry. Her fiction, nonfiction, and criticism have appeared in various print and online publications.
Praise for Forgive Me Not:
A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
A 2023 New York Public Library Best Book for Teens
A 2024 Texas TAYSHAS Reading List Pick
Electric Lit's Top 5 Novels of 2023
Black Caucus American Library Association Best of the Best 2023 Pick!
★ “Though the justice system in the novel is clearly fiction, the parallels with our current system—especially Baker's depiction of the unequal way justice is applied—are unmistakable. A sharp indictment, Baker makes a powerful and passionate statement about real justice embedded in a well-constructed plot populated by vivid characters.” —Booklist, starred review
“Jennifer Baker crafts a riveting, heartbreaking, and ultimately redemptive tale with nuanced characters that are perfectly flawed and relatable. Forgive Me Not is an astute social commentary on the juvenile justice system and a powerful reflection on who deserves second chances. A groundbreaking debut that will stay with the reader long after the story ends.” —Renée Watson, #1 New York Times bestselling author, The 1619 Project: Born on the Water
“Unflinching and character-driven, Forgive Me Not confronts difficult questions about identity, family, and forgiveness. A potent reminder of the personal and societal harm caused by dehumanizing systems.” —Randy Ribay, National Book Award Finalist, Patron Saints of Nothing
“Brilliant, bold, and deeply moving, Forgive Me Not shines a necessary and dignifying light on the young people trapped in a broken system of justice. This novel radiates with the redemptive power of love and forgiveness.” —Brendan Kiely, co-author of the New York Times bestselling All American Boys and The Other Talk
“Eye-opening… draws parallels to the inequality of the justice system in the United States, particularly its treatment of Black people and people of color … An important addition to teen library collections.” —School Library Journal
“Baker’s writing excels at showing rather than telling through vivid details.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Through resonant alternating perspectives, debut author Baker empathetically examines the harsh treatment of Black youth in the justice system. Affecting depictions of addiction and reform contribute to the novel’s overarching interrogation of blame, guilt, and self-forgiveness.” —Publishers Weekly