Forgive Me Not / Jennifer Baker / Book Review


Violeta Chen-Samuels is guilty. There’s no doubt about that. One night of bad decisions left her—and her family—irrevocably changed. One night of poor choices caused an accident that took her little sister’s life.

As a juvenile offender, Violeta’s fate is in the hands of her victims—in this case, her family. She could do A stint in juvie. Or she could do something else, something meant to rehabilitate her: the Trials. Catered to her specific crime, the Trials are supposed to help juvenile offenders change their lives. And unlike a stint in juvie, there’s no end date in sight.

On the outside, Vincent Chen-Samuels can’t stand to watch his sister hurt. But he’s hurting, too. The whole family is, with one of them gone and another locked up. He just wants Violeta home, but it isn’t his choice. Can he convince his family to forgive his sister before their family is too broken to fix?



I really, really liked the idea here. Both the blurb (which sounds particularly dystopian) and the author note (which says the book revolves around a family) spoke to a book I would have loved, and yet... the execution here wasn't for me. I wanted more dystopia. I wanted more family drama. I wanted more, whichever way this book was meant to swing, and it just kind of fell flat for me.


Best Interest There is something so frustrating about watching these parents hurt their child in the name of her "best interest." Maybe they do want what's best for her, but they're also thinking of themselves first. They let her fall into a dark place, and they take no responsibility for that. And that's horrific--eye-opening and horrific. This is something that I'm sure will resonate with a lot of teen readers--something I experienced myself as a teen: watching a friend go down the wrong road while their parents willfully look the other way (even when their kid is practically begging for help). There's an innate sense of injustice in these pages, something that Jennifer Baker does so, so well.

Call For Reform A punishment system is not a justice system. A real justice system, especially for minors, involves reformation. Vulnerable parties will only ever be crushed by an unjust system, and while the "justice" system in this book does not necessarily speak directly to ours, it is still a calling-out, and a calling-out I think we need. There's a major problem in this justice system (and perhaps a lot of contemporary justice systems) that punish certain demographics and kinds of people more than others--vulnerable and voiceless demographics.

Guilty What does it mean to be guilty? And why do certain parties have to shoulder more of the blame? This book is a calling-out but also a pointing finger. Because not every crime is cut and dry. There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of considerations, and especially when a "criminal" is so young, black-and-white thinking isn't to anyone's benefit. This book wrestles with the notion of guilt, and it's hard to read because of that--in a good, soul-searching way.


A well-written world shouldn't need a classroom-style introduction to its mechanics, and that's exactly what we get here: a full scene, in the classroom, explaining how exactly we got here. Great worldbuilding will be much more natural than that. It felt forced, especially because the information, while relevant to the readers, didn't seem especially relevant to the characters. These gals have already been sentenced to the Trials. Why do they care where the Trials come from? Why does the government care about informing them of the Trial origins? It wasn't for propaganda, so... What was it for expect to give an info dump that the readers really needed? Explication

One of the common woes of multi-POV stories is the chance for one point-of-view to be so much more engaging than the other(s). That was, unfortunately, the case here. I found Vincent's narrative much more interesting and compelling, which was entirely unexpected since his is, by and large, so much more mundane. He isn't undergoing any Trials, after all. He's going through his regular old life. But even though I found his POV more interesting, I wasn't ultimately sure what the point was. A book entirely from Violeta's perspective might have been more impactful, though I can't be sure of that. It just felt like there was some problem here between these POVs, and I can't quite put my finger on what it was or how it could have been better. Multi POV Woes

This book is set up like it is going to be dystopian, and it definitely has seeds of that. But really, it's just a slightly tweaked contemporary world that is particularly cruel for no particular reason. And that was this book's biggest downfall, because I wasn't given a promised dystopia or a particularly chilling indictment of the current justice system we have. The weird mix of real and not-quite that I got hooked left me high and dry, no point in sight. Cruel



Fans of Teri Terry's Slated will like this new, slightly-askew justice system. Those who enjoyed Scott Westerfeld's Uglies will appreciate the calling-out that this book does.


Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Date: August 25, 2023
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. Sorry this one fell a little flat for you! Thanks for sharing your well-written honest review.

  2. Wonderful review! This sounds like it had potential, but I completely understand how having multiple pov's, especially ones that are more engaging than others, can disrupt the story.

  3. Ahh, it's so frustrating when a book disappoints!

    Corinne x

  4. I haven't heard of this book, but it does sound like it would be dystopian, so it's a shame that it did fall flat. Also, I agree that a problem with multiple POVs is that a POV can be more interesting and engaging than the others.


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