Sheila's Reviews > Forgiving Jesse

Forgiving Jesse by Sara Dean
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's review
Jul 20, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: christian, cultural, current_issues, relationships, young-adult
Read in July, 2011

Author Sara Dean channels an angry teen boy very convincingly in her young adult novel, Forgiving Jesse, and Jesse has much to be forgiven. Since his father left home the high school junior has grown more and more distant from his mother, his studies, and maybe even his friends. The novel opens with his senior year about to start, while Jesse delights in a motorbike’s freedom and longs for more. The magic age of eighteen looms ahead of him. Then he’ll go to his dad. Then life will be good again.

The novel’s set in a modern world, where teens drink, smoke, disobey, skip classes and indulge in relationships, off-page, that require far more maturity than they know. There’s no easy forgiveness or sweet light of purity here. But there’s an angry young man, lost and alone, betrayed by everyone he trusted and finally left in the care of someone he hardly even knows. Life isn’t clean and simple, for all Jesse wishes it was. But sometimes a motorbike offers a surprising path to a surprising freedom.

Church helps. People help. And love helps. But this is definitely not a preachy tale. It’s a sad story of a young man’s betrayal, an honest portrayal of his fight for independence, and an uplifting story of his coming of age. Forgiveness, in the end, is given, not earned, and even the cruelest circles can be broken.

Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy of this novel by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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