Book Review: Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters

21450782Shy, intellectual, and living in rural Oregon, Triinu Hoffman just doesn’t fit in. She does her best to hide behind her dyed hair and black wardrobe, but it’s hard to ignore the bullying of Pip Weston and Principal Pinn. It’s even harder to ignore the allure of other girls. As Triinu tumbles headlong into first love and teenage independence, she realizes that the differences that make her a target are also the differences that can set her free. With everyone in town taking sides in the battle for equal rights in Oregon, Triinu must stand up for herself, learn what it is to love and have her heart broken, and become her own woman. (synopsis from Goodreads)

Rating: 9/10

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in two sittings. Karelia Stetz-Waters has managed to capture in the character of Triinu Hoffman all of the doubts and insecurities that come with being a teenager, as well as the over-whelming joy of finally figuring out a piece of the puzzle that is you. We get to follow Triinu as she discovers her sexuality, falls in love for the first time, and learns a little about the pain that comes with heartbreak.

Forgive Me will make you laugh on one page and cry on the next as Triinu is struggles (and manages) to stay true to herself in a world that would rather she just stayed in the closet. She is bullied by a fellow student so relentlessly that she often fears for her life, and is surrounded by “authority figures” who would rather not get involved. Triinu is witness to the hate that homophobia breeds, a hate that we are, sadly, still familiar with, and you can’t help but notice that some things haven’t changed. But Stetz-Waters has given us a character who is strong (if not always confident) that most everyone can identify with. Gay or straight. And most importantly, Stetz-Waters has given us hope.

Yes, we are shown the hate that so many teens have been forced to endure, but we also see the resilience that will change the world. We see that same resilience working today. Marriage equality is making its way around the nation and many clergy members have come forward to denounce the hatred that many religious institutions have allowed to continue. And while we still have a long way to go, at least we are going somewhere thanks to teens like Triinu and people like Karelia Stetz-Waters who refuse to let people tell them who they should be and instead become who they really are.

It’s beautiful. It’s both heart-wrenching and heart-warming,and it’s most definitely a must read. This is one type of story that we should be telling and reading. The type of story that can give so many the courage they need to become who they are and possibly help change the world while they’re at it.


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