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Acts of Forgiveness: A Novel (Hardcover)

Acts of Forgiveness: A Novel By Maura Cheeks Cover Image
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“A vibrant and moving debut that takes to heart our deferred dreams and the value of remaining hopeful.”—Diane Marie Brown, author of Black Candle Women

How much of their lineage is one family willing to unearth in order to participate in the nation’s first federal reparations program?

Every American waits with bated breath to see whether or not the country’s first female president will pass the Forgiveness Act. The bill would allow Black families to claim up to $175,000 if they can prove they are the descendants of slaves, and for ambitious single mother Willie Revel the bill could be a long-awaited form of redemption. A decade ago, Willie gave up her burgeoning journalism career to help run her father’s struggling construction company in Philadelphia and she has reluctantly put family first, without being able to forget who she might have become. Now she’s back living with her parents and her young daughter while trying to keep her family from going into bankruptcy. Could the Forgiveness Act uncover her forgotten roots while also helping save their beloved home and her father’s life’s work?

In order to qualify, she must first prove that the Revels are descended from slaves, but the rest of the family isn’t as eager to dig up the past. Her mother is adopted, her father doesn’t trust the government and believes working with a morally corrupt employer is the better way to save their business, and her daughter is just trying to make it through the fifth grade at her elite private school without attracting unwanted attention. It’s up to Willie to verify their ancestry and save her family—but as she delves into their history, Willie begins to learn just how complicated family and forgiveness can be.

With powerful insight and moving prose, Acts of Forgiveness asks how history shapes who we become and considers the weight of success when it is achieved despite incredible odds—and ultimately what leaving behind a legacy truly means.

About the Author

Maura Cheeks has published writing in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, and Tin House, among others. In 2019, she was awarded a masthead reporting residency with The Atlantic where she produced the feature-length article that would later inspire the idea for this book. Acts of Forgiveness is her first novel.

Praise For…

Acts of Forgiveness is a vibrant and moving debut that takes to heart our deferred dreams and the value of remaining hopeful. Cheeks’s layered and tender story allows us to witness a family’s journey as they plant seeds, dig up roots, and bloom, all while they contend with injustices and fight for redemption in the world around them.”—Diane Marie Brown, author of Black Candle Women

“In Acts of Forgiveness, Maura Cheeks extends humanity, depth, hope, and complexity to a part of the American experience that too often gets flattened into talking points. This book is a testament to the power of great fiction to lead us to a better understanding of the truth. A generous and empathetic study of burden and inheritance, consequence and regret, this book and its characters are going to live with me for a long time.”—R. Eric Thomas, bestselling author of Congratulations, The Best Is Over!

Acts of Forgiveness is a striking debut that asks pressing and urgent questions about reckoning with this nation’s history, and what it offers by way of answers is incredibly moving. Cheeks’s ability to render a painful past, an unfixed present, and a hopeful future through the Revels’ hopes and fears is astonishing. This novel grips with intellect and heart.”—Cleyvis Natera, author of Neruda on the Park

Acts of Forgiveness is the rare novel that lays out a hypothetical public policy and its attendant bureaucracy, weaving a story with an imaginative yet realistic exploration of what reparations might look like—what might be missed and what might be achieved. But above all, it is a story about family, with all the challenge, ambiguity, interconnection, obligation, and love the term carries. . . . A generous, thoughtful, and thought-provoking novel about inheritance in all its forms.”—Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State

“Engrossing . . . [Maura] Cheeks seamlessly threads the themes of resentment, forgiveness, and legacy through the multilayered narrative. Readers will be moved.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Cheeks’ debut novel seeks to explore the question of ‘whether forgiveness could be political, and, if so, could it last.’ . . . A freshly told, complex family drama with an intriguing premise.”Kirkus Reviews

“Complex family relationship dynamics and hidden histories are elegantly examined in Cheeks’ debut family saga. . . . Cheeks imbues her characters with depth and emotion and tackles the personal and the political with skillful, expressive writing, and the Revel family story is engrossing.”Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593598290
ISBN-10: 0593598296
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: February 13th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English