The book open with a line ” Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it” by Mark Twain.
This line sets the tone of the book. It talks about the healing effect of forgiveness and how the scars one experiences in one’s childhood can leave a lasting impression and destroy later life even though one might be successful and content on the surface.
The book is a story of Professor or rather Dr. Ryan Kilgore who has a fulfilling career as a university professor and a loving family. But his life seems anything but content. It is due to his deep rooted anger and resentment at his father, who abandoned him when he was born. Due to that void he is unable to experience the joy of fatherhood with his own son, and also strains his relation with his wife.
When things begin to go downhill, he realizes that he must confront his unhealed wounds and seek answers from his father to be able to move forward in his life. Thus while at an academic conference he embarks on a search to track down his father. Along the way he encounters several visions with his father. Each vision lifting the burden off his chest. A discovery of life with forgiveness at its core, that cleanses away all pain, regret and hatred.
Towards the end of the conference Robert is not healed but also transforms by letting go of the burden he was carrying for so many years. Through the most difficult challenge of his life he emerges filled with love and an understanding of self and family.
The essence of the book can very well be put in the following words from the book itself:
“…the idea of looking at the most damaging things in your life, the things that have caused you the most pain and suffering, and figuring out a way to turn those into your greatest teachers, bearing your greatest gifts….”
It not a long read. A short novel which can be completed in a span of few hours. But the message it leaves is potent and one that hold a lot of value in the present world, where everyone is ready for revenge. The idea of forgiveness is soon becoming alien to us. But we need it the most today to cleanse ourselves and to heal.