A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee

A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee

I received an advance reader’s copy of this book, and was intrigued based on the title, thinking that it would be a story of forgiveness and redemption.  Instead, it’s mostly about people behaving badly and not really learning anything from their mistakes.  Populated by underdeveloped and largely unlikable characters, this stunted storyline leaves a lot to be desired.  I kept waiting to feel invested in the characters and story and never really did.

The story opens with the implosion of Ben and Helen Armstead’s marriage when Ben pretty much goes off the deep end in what looks like a classic case of mid-life crisis.  His shenanigans land him in rehab and then a short stint in jail.

Meanwhile, Helen is forced back into the workforce after an extended hiatus spent raising their adopted daughter.  She stumbles onto an entry-level job for a PR firm and discovers that she has a “gift” for getting high-powered men to apologize – hence the title of the book, which I think is an extremely inflated title, as the story really only includes a handful of examples of her prowess at drawing contrition out of people, and that seems to be a pretty incidental part of the story anyway.

Sara, the daughter adopted from China in her infancy (her Chinese heritage also seems arbitrary and pointless to the story), is now a teen, and a surly one at that.  She spends most of the story hurling insults at her mother, Helen, who just takes it (I seriously wanted to smack Sara upside the head a few times; the author failed to garner any sympathy towards her from me), cutting school, making out and drinking with a scary classmate, and generally running amok.

The story just kind of meanders.  Not a lot of background is laid out – certainly not enough to make the reader care about the characters.  In the end, everyone basically ends up back at Point A, and I was left wondering what the point was.

Scheduled to be released in February 2013, this isn’t one I would recommend.

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