Rating: 5/5 Stars
The book opens with an introduction from the author Mariana Cantacuzino. In 2003, she collected stories in words and pictures from people who sought forgiveness and reconciliation instead of revenge. In 2004, she created ‘The F Word’ exhibition. In her introduction she talks about how no one should be forced to forgive or feel like they must; the point of the project is not to persuade people to forgive. Restorative justice focuses on the needs of the victims and offenders, as well as the involved community. This goes along with the idea behind sharing stories and talking to consider and reflect and decide whether you are ready to forgive. The introduction sets the tone for the rest of the book, the exploration of forgiveness and how different individuals interpret it and have dealt with it in their own lives.
This powerful collection of stories is from survivors and perpetrators from all over the world on how they have considered the concept of forgiveness. I appreciated the unique perspectives and how different people engage the concept of forgiveness. These individuals are coming from different backgrounds and different beliefs. Some decided to forgive right away, others took many years, and some are still working on becoming ready to forgive. Some are forgiving others and some are working on forgiving themselves. I thought the diverseness of opinions and ideas made this collection stronger.
There were a couple ideas that really stuck with me and helped me realize some new thoughts about forgiveness. Magdeline Makola said, “You don’t have to trust someone just because they are forgiven.” Anne Marie Hagan said, “Forgiveness is not permission. It doesn’t mean that you agree with what the offender has done.” I think it is often assumed that once someone is forgiven we have to forget what they did and act like it didn’t happen. It’s reassuring the think that just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you are saying what they did was okay and you don’t automatically trust them again.
I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in restorative justice, a peaceful response to violence, or anyone who wants to read inspirational stories and learn more about forgiveness. A collection of stories about violence and crime could have been horrific to read, however reading about the healing and forgiveness made it an uplifting read; the stories didn’t focus on the tragic events. This is a book that educated me, made me cry, and touched me deeply.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
If you would like to learn more about The Forgiveness Project, read stories, get resources and more click here.