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Forgiveness Road: A Powerful Novel of Compelling Historical Fiction

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From the acclaimed author whose historical fiction has been compared to The Help, comes a powerful and ultimately uplifting novel that tells the story of three generations of women in 1970s Mississippi after their lives are thrown into upheaval when a dark secret is brutally exposed . . . On a hot, humid July morning, sixteen-year-old Cissy Pickering calmly and deliberatel From the acclaimed author whose historical fiction has been compared to The Help, comes a powerful and ultimately uplifting novel that tells the story of three generations of women in 1970s Mississippi after their lives are thrown into upheaval when a dark secret is brutally exposed . . . On a hot, humid July morning, sixteen-year-old Cissy Pickering calmly and deliberately shoots her father in the back. To their Mississippi community, the death of well-regarded attorney Richard Pickering is a fascinating scandal. To Cissy's distraught mother, Caroline, it's an unforgivable crime. But in Cissy's troubled mind, it was the only way she knew to save her younger sisters, the two people she loves most in the world. Janelle Clayton, the family's matriarch, has kept her distance from her daughter, Caroline--a fact she now regrets--yet she hopes to do right by her granddaughter, whom she believes implicitly. When Cissy is remanded to the Greater Mississippi State Hospital, new revelations drive her to retreat from reality. It will fall to Janelle to become Cissy's advocate and rescuer. And over the course of an unlikely road trip, Janelle and Cissy will confront the truths they've hidden from the world and themselves--finding courage, resilience, and a bond tender and tough enough to transform them both. "Mikulencak tackles the complex ramifications of abuse, from unwanted notoriety to complex questions of who is responsible, with grace and empathy. . . . Forgiveness Road is haunting and poignant." --Booklist


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From the acclaimed author whose historical fiction has been compared to The Help, comes a powerful and ultimately uplifting novel that tells the story of three generations of women in 1970s Mississippi after their lives are thrown into upheaval when a dark secret is brutally exposed . . . On a hot, humid July morning, sixteen-year-old Cissy Pickering calmly and deliberatel From the acclaimed author whose historical fiction has been compared to The Help, comes a powerful and ultimately uplifting novel that tells the story of three generations of women in 1970s Mississippi after their lives are thrown into upheaval when a dark secret is brutally exposed . . . On a hot, humid July morning, sixteen-year-old Cissy Pickering calmly and deliberately shoots her father in the back. To their Mississippi community, the death of well-regarded attorney Richard Pickering is a fascinating scandal. To Cissy's distraught mother, Caroline, it's an unforgivable crime. But in Cissy's troubled mind, it was the only way she knew to save her younger sisters, the two people she loves most in the world. Janelle Clayton, the family's matriarch, has kept her distance from her daughter, Caroline--a fact she now regrets--yet she hopes to do right by her granddaughter, whom she believes implicitly. When Cissy is remanded to the Greater Mississippi State Hospital, new revelations drive her to retreat from reality. It will fall to Janelle to become Cissy's advocate and rescuer. And over the course of an unlikely road trip, Janelle and Cissy will confront the truths they've hidden from the world and themselves--finding courage, resilience, and a bond tender and tough enough to transform them both. "Mikulencak tackles the complex ramifications of abuse, from unwanted notoriety to complex questions of who is responsible, with grace and empathy. . . . Forgiveness Road is haunting and poignant." --Booklist

30 review for Forgiveness Road: A Powerful Novel of Compelling Historical Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Suzy

    3.5 Stars! I requested Forgiveness Road on a whim, as I’ve never read anything by this author. The synopsis sounded like something that would interest me and it did. This is a bittersweet family saga set in the 1970’s. It centers around Cissy Pickering, who shoots and kills her father to protect her younger sisters. This book rustles up plenty of emotions while reading because there are some very sensitive subjects happening here. I was not a fan of Cissy’s mother, Caroline, but I was a fan of h 3.5 Stars! I requested Forgiveness Road on a whim, as I’ve never read anything by this author. The synopsis sounded like something that would interest me and it did. This is a bittersweet family saga set in the 1970’s. It centers around Cissy Pickering, who shoots and kills her father to protect her younger sisters. This book rustles up plenty of emotions while reading because there are some very sensitive subjects happening here. I was not a fan of Cissy’s mother, Caroline, but I was a fan of her grandmother, Janelle. This story was told in a very straightforward manner, without a lot of fluff or unnecessary additives. I really liked the ending, but wish we could’ve learned a bit more detail about some of the characters. Overall, it was a good book and I would recommend it! Thank you to NetGalley, Kensington Books and Mandy Mikulencak for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Judy D Collins

    What a beautifully written heartwarming and moving story! I adored (5 Stars) The Last Suppers (2017) and Mandy Mikulencak returns with an even more powerful and compelling tale of love, forgiveness, and redemption with FORGIVENESS ROAD. Highly recommend the audiobook, narrated by Amy Landon (a beautiful voice for the characters). I enjoyed the digital copy from NetGalley (thank you) and Kensington, as well as the audio. Ironically, I am reading ARC of (8/6/19) Susan Rebecca White's We Are All Go What a beautifully written heartwarming and moving story! I adored (5 Stars) The Last Suppers (2017) and Mandy Mikulencak returns with an even more powerful and compelling tale of love, forgiveness, and redemption with FORGIVENESS ROAD. Highly recommend the audiobook, narrated by Amy Landon (a beautiful voice for the characters). I enjoyed the digital copy from NetGalley (thank you) and Kensington, as well as the audio. Ironically, I am reading ARC of (8/6/19) Susan Rebecca White's We Are All Good People Here: A Novel and (3/5/19) Greg Iles Cemetery Road and at the same time, reading (2/27/19) Mandy Mikulencak's Forgiveness Road. All three books are set in the deep south of Mississippi and deal with injustices and unforgettable characters. Three award-winning books and Southern authors. Three of my favorites. I think I am in Southern book heaven! Get this gem on your list now! You will fall in love with courageous granddaughter Cissy and grandmother, Janelle and their amazing road trip. Mandy is at the top of her game with her best yet! For fans of Susan Rebecca White, Diane Chamberlain, Karen White, and Joshilyn Jackson. More coming shortly.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl James

    Wow, after reading this book I had to take a time out to just breathe. Some authors write books but this author wrote a story. A story that grasped my mind, heart and soul right from the beginning all the way to the end. This book is Amazing to the point where it never lost a word, a sentence, a paragraph and definitely not a meaning. The family dynamic in this story is so relevant to the current times that we live in today. The things that family will do for their children and or grandchildren Wow, after reading this book I had to take a time out to just breathe. Some authors write books but this author wrote a story. A story that grasped my mind, heart and soul right from the beginning all the way to the end. This book is Amazing to the point where it never lost a word, a sentence, a paragraph and definitely not a meaning. The family dynamic in this story is so relevant to the current times that we live in today. The things that family will do for their children and or grandchildren is so real. We will go to the moon and back and that is exactly what this grandmother did for her granddaughter, Cissy. This book depicts the true meaning of unconditional love. Many times forgiveness is all we have to give. After reading this story I truly miss my grandmother and her unconditional love!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eldonna Edwards

    ​Forgiveness Road touches on all the right elements of a bittersweet family saga where love is not a given and healing sometimes comes at the expense of family bonds. Set in the 1970s south, this haunting ​novel features a bold Cissy Pickering who murders her father to protect her young sisters. Cissy has developed a form of OCD to assuage the pain inflicted by her father’s abuse and bring some control over her otherwise uncontrollable situation. When Cissy’s mother is unable to bear the truth o ​Forgiveness Road touches on all the right elements of a bittersweet family saga where love is not a given and healing sometimes comes at the expense of family bonds. Set in the 1970s south, this haunting ​novel features a bold Cissy Pickering who murders her father to protect her young sisters. Cissy has developed a form of OCD to assuage the pain inflicted by her father’s abuse and bring some control over her otherwise uncontrollable situation. When Cissy’s mother is unable to bear the truth of her husband’s transgression, it’s her standoffish grandmother Janelle who becomes a beacon of trust, seeking to guide an unusual and misunderstood teen. During an unauthorized road trip with her ailing ​grandmother, sacrifices are made and more secrets are uncovered. Ultimately, ​​Forgiveness Road illuminates the ​intricate tapestry that weaves us together​,​ even when circumstances threaten to unravel the threads that bind us. Beautifully told, Mandy Mikulencak once again expertly braids humanity and compassion with adversity and betrayal​ to create a profound story without easy answers​.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Review to come, but what a beautiful, sad and poingnant story.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carla Johnson-Hicks

    4.5 Bittersweet Stars. This is a heartbreaking family saga set in the 1970’s, in Mississippi. It centers around Cissy Pickering, who shoots and kills her father to protect her younger sisters. Cissy had been assaulted by her father for years and when she realized that he was ready to move on to her younger sister, she did what she needed to in order to protect her. Cissy's grandmother, Janelle, steps up to help her when her mother Caroline does not believe her. Cissy ends up in a mental hospital 4.5 Bittersweet Stars. This is a heartbreaking family saga set in the 1970’s, in Mississippi. It centers around Cissy Pickering, who shoots and kills her father to protect her younger sisters. Cissy had been assaulted by her father for years and when she realized that he was ready to move on to her younger sister, she did what she needed to in order to protect her. Cissy's grandmother, Janelle, steps up to help her when her mother Caroline does not believe her. Cissy ends up in a mental hospital rather than in prison, but she is far from crazy. When Janelle slips Cissy away when she is in the hospital, they have to deal with being on the run and saving themselves. This book deals with some very sensitive issues of incest, abortion, and institutionalization of women in the past for protecting themselves. This was a very emotional read, so be prepared for lots of feelings. The characters were well-developed in most cases, but there were some things missing that I would have liked to know more about. While Cissy and Janelle were very likable, Caroline was one I disliked very much. The story was well-written in a no nonsense manner. As I read quickly through the story, I was hoping that Cissy would come out okay in the end. I will say, I both loved and hated the ending. I liked this story and the author's writing very much. This is the first book I have read by this author, but I will look for other books by Mandy Mikulencak in the future. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    This novel is about three generations of women in the same family who have their lives spiral out of control one hot day in July. This event changes all of their futures and what they believe about their pasts. On a hot, humid July morning, sixteen-year-old Cissy Pickering calmly and deliberately shoots her father in the back. In her mind it was completely justified - she was trying to save her younger sisters from the sexual abuse that her father had inflicted on her for her entire life. Her mot This novel is about three generations of women in the same family who have their lives spiral out of control one hot day in July. This event changes all of their futures and what they believe about their pasts. On a hot, humid July morning, sixteen-year-old Cissy Pickering calmly and deliberately shoots her father in the back. In her mind it was completely justified - she was trying to save her younger sisters from the sexual abuse that her father had inflicted on her for her entire life. Her mother, Caroline, knew nothing about the abuse and isn't sure that she believes it and blames Cissy for ruining her life and her standing in the community. Her maternal grandmother, Janelle, who had always been very proper and very standoffish to her daughter's family is the only person who is on Cissy's side. She convinces the courts that Cissy should go to a mental hospital instead of jail. Cissy is already extremely OCD and when more revelations come to light, she retreats even further from reality. Janelle decides to take things in to her own hands and despite her failing health, she fights for Cissy. And over the course of an unlikely road trip, Janelle and Cissy will confront the truths they've hidden from the world and themselves, finding courage, deep-rooted resilience, and a bond tender and tough enough to transform them both. The wonderfully written novel shows love and resilience in three women in different generations of the same family. They all grow because of what happened but to me the best relationship that came about was between Cissy and her grandmother, Janelle. You may shed a few tears as you read this fantastic novel but they are worth it for the chance to read about these wonderful characters. Thanks to the author for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    Sixteen-year-old Cissy Pickering would do anything to protect her little sisters—even if that meant shooting their father in the back. It was a scandal that rocked the town, estranging Cissy from her mother, Caroline, and her beloved sisters. Only Cissy's grandmother Janelle stands by her, and she needs her more than ever after further discoveries are made while Cissy is at the state psychiatric hospital. Determined to save her granddaughter at any cost, Janelle takes Cissy on a road trip that w Sixteen-year-old Cissy Pickering would do anything to protect her little sisters—even if that meant shooting their father in the back. It was a scandal that rocked the town, estranging Cissy from her mother, Caroline, and her beloved sisters. Only Cissy's grandmother Janelle stands by her, and she needs her more than ever after further discoveries are made while Cissy is at the state psychiatric hospital. Determined to save her granddaughter at any cost, Janelle takes Cissy on a road trip that will leave them bonded more closely than ever before. Beautifully written, with unforgettable characters you won't soon forget, Forgiveness Road is a haunting tale about the measures someone is willing to take for the sake of the those they love. I love to read novels that explore family relationships, particularly when they somewhat troubled or distant. Generational tales, especially, catch my eye because it's always interesting to see how missteps of the past affect the future. A common thread between the relationships Janelle, Caroline, and Cissy had with one another was a lack of the closeness they all privately wished they had with one another. For me, that adds another element of heartbreak to the story, because they weren't able to support one another when things went wrong. As I read, I kept hoping they would take the risk of being honest about their feelings to one another, because it physically hurt to read how badly they wanted to connect, but felt too afraid to try most of the time. It made the times when they did connect have an even greater impact, though. I appreciated the attention Mikulencak gave to Cissy's way of coping—by counting things and making lists— because it showed her taking control of something, when there was little she could do to control her father's abuse. There is a great deal I would like to discuss about this book, but spoilers are inevitable. Suffice to say that I found this book to be incredibly moving, and I really loved it. I have a feeling these characters will live on in my mind for quite some time. This is a great read for fans of historical fiction, and I definitely recommend it! I received an advance reading copy of this book courtesy of John Scognamiglio Books via Netgalley.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    4 stars What an interesting book! The story is fascinating and the book just draws the reader in. Cissy is a much misunderstood sixteen-year old girl. She talks to God. She counts things. Her very strict mother thinks there is something wrong with Cissy; she thinks her odd. One day Cissy commits an irrevocable deed to protect her younger sisters. For this her mother hates her with all her being. But her maternal grandmother Janelle loves Cissy and tries very hard to protect her. What follows is C 4 stars What an interesting book! The story is fascinating and the book just draws the reader in. Cissy is a much misunderstood sixteen-year old girl. She talks to God. She counts things. Her very strict mother thinks there is something wrong with Cissy; she thinks her odd. One day Cissy commits an irrevocable deed to protect her younger sisters. For this her mother hates her with all her being. But her maternal grandmother Janelle loves Cissy and tries very hard to protect her. What follows is Cissy and Janelle’s journey to healing. For Janelle, it is an opportunity to open herself to the love of her granddaughter, something she couldn’t always give Caroline, Cissy’s mother. For Cissy, it is a chance to heal and learn about herself and the world around her. This book is well written and plotted. It reads rather quickly and smoothly. I liked Cissy and her quirks, although it is easy to see why some people would think her strange. I really liked Janelle and her strength of character. Caroline, not so much. She thought more of her husband than of Cissy and flatly didn’t believe Cissy’s story. I know that this is not an uncommon occurrence in such situations, but the assumption that the child is lying still really frosts my preserves. This is at once both a tragic and heartwarming story. I strongly recommend it for anyone who likes books about the relationships between generations and women both strong and those more tentative. I want to thank NetGalley and Kensington Books for forwarding to me a copy of this very good book for me to read, enjoy and review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    ** I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you** This story covers some pretty serious topics ranging from sexual abuse, mental health and racial boundaries in the 1970's. Naturally I had to read it. I went through several emotions while reading this, disgust, pity, and sadness being some of the predominant ones. I felt disgust for what happened to Cissy and for the way her mother treated her when the truth came out. Pity fo ** I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you** This story covers some pretty serious topics ranging from sexual abuse, mental health and racial boundaries in the 1970's. Naturally I had to read it. I went through several emotions while reading this, disgust, pity, and sadness being some of the predominant ones. I felt disgust for what happened to Cissy and for the way her mother treated her when the truth came out. Pity for Cissy who suffered in silence and for her journey in a mental health facility. Sadness for Janelle for well, pretty much everything. This is not a story that will give you the warm and fuzzies. It deals with serious subject matters and while well written, is a heavy read due to the subject matter. My only item for contemplation was the way Cissy was portrayed. I couldn't decide if she really did have mental health issues and was written that way, or if her oddities were just coping mechanisms as she read as someone much younger than she really was. I guess the two are closely linked so it doesn't really matter much. While not a lot of good is written about in this book, I do have to say that I absolutely loved the ending. The whole time I was reading this I was wondering how there would be a clean way to conclude the story. I can say that Mikulencak nailed it!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Geha

    Forgiveness Road by Mandy Mikulencak This book hit home and made me think of my mother, now deceased, and the story of abuse she revealed to me the day her father died. I was a freshman in college when she unburdened herself and did my best to absorb her pain. Her mother was not there for her but her grandmother was...and her grandmother had been in a mental institution so...there were definitely parallels in this book that made me think of not only my family but also of friends who told me of si Forgiveness Road by Mandy Mikulencak This book hit home and made me think of my mother, now deceased, and the story of abuse she revealed to me the day her father died. I was a freshman in college when she unburdened herself and did my best to absorb her pain. Her mother was not there for her but her grandmother was...and her grandmother had been in a mental institution so...there were definitely parallels in this book that made me think of not only my family but also of friends who told me of similar abuse in their own lives. This book was well written and not easy to read due to the weighty issues that were dealt with – incest, child abuse, cutting, psychological care/institutionalization, bigotry, the race divide, religion, God/dess, cancer, domestic battery, dysfunctional families...and more. Cissy is a truly good person with an outlook on life that was interesting to read. She was mature for her years and there for her sisters in so many ways. She developed coping skills to deal with the physical and mental abuse her father handed out and these coping mechanisms at times made her seem peculiar. Even after reading the ending of the book I am unsure just what Cissy will end up doing and almost wish there had been an epilogue so I would know just what happens next. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the ARC – This is my honest review. 4 Stars

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    On a Mississippi July morning sometime in the 1970s, 16 year old Cissy Pickering empties a gun into her father’s back. She does not explain, saying only that she had to do it to protect her younger sisters. Her mother, Caroline, turns against her, but her grandmother Janelle takes Cissy’s side. Cissy is arrested, and eventually states that her father had been raping her since she was little. They had a deal: she would do whatever he wanted, provided he never touch her little sisters. And he was On a Mississippi July morning sometime in the 1970s, 16 year old Cissy Pickering empties a gun into her father’s back. She does not explain, saying only that she had to do it to protect her younger sisters. Her mother, Caroline, turns against her, but her grandmother Janelle takes Cissy’s side. Cissy is arrested, and eventually states that her father had been raping her since she was little. They had a deal: she would do whatever he wanted, provided he never touch her little sisters. And he was starting to break that deal. She is, she says, ready to take the punishment for the crime she has committed, and expects to spend the rest of her life in jail. Her grandmother’s lawyer, however, plans to plead insanity. Cissy has had some mental quirks for a number of years: she makes endless lists and counts everything. She’s developed a form of OCD that allows her to believe she has some control over her life. This lands her in a mental hospital rather than in jail, where she reads whatever is available and plays chess with God, talking out loud to Her. But then her grandmother decides Cissy shouldn’t be punished at all for ridding the world of her son-in-law, and springs her for a road trip. There are problems, of course. Janelle knows not to use credit cards or checks, so they are limited to what cash she had on hand. And Janelle is ill. This may cut short their bid for freedom. There is a lot of things going on in this book; the cold relationship between Janelle and Caroline, the relationship between Janelle and her childhood best friend who is now her housekeeper- and refuses to call Janelle anything but ‘Ma’am’, the relationship of Caroline and Cissy that keeps Caroline from believing Cissy at first, the odd short of friendship between Cissy and a fellow patient at the asylum, the relationship that develops between Cissy and a waitress at the motel/restaurant they stop at for a while, and the relationship between said waitress and her boyfriend. But despite all that I liked about the book, I felt there was something odd about how fast Cissy got over things. She’s been abused all her life, she kills her father, her mother turns against her, and other crushing things happen to her later in the book. Yet she is okay… Her OCD protects her from what her father does to her, but it’s no protection against the rest, at least not that I can tell. Still, a very engaging book. Four and a half stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    My personal "star" rating system: 1 star: Could not finish the book 2 star: Had to force myself to finish the book, did not care for the book, and will not be seeking out this author in the future 3 star: Liked the book, but will not necessarily be seeking out this author in the future 4 star: Really liked the book and would read more of this author, but will not be re-reading this particular book again 5 star: Loved it so much that I will re-read this book in the future, and the author is going onto My personal "star" rating system: 1 star: Could not finish the book 2 star: Had to force myself to finish the book, did not care for the book, and will not be seeking out this author in the future 3 star: Liked the book, but will not necessarily be seeking out this author in the future 4 star: Really liked the book and would read more of this author, but will not be re-reading this particular book again 5 star: Loved it so much that I will re-read this book in the future, and the author is going onto my list for pre-orders of their future titles My rating: 3.5 stars I have had this book on pre-order for MONTHS. I loved The Last Suppers, and I could not wait for this one. The premise was great-a 16-year-old girl, Cissy, shoots and kills her father because he promised that he would not do to her younger sisters as what he does to her. She ends up going to a psychiatric hospital for an undisclosed sentence of time, where she meets a 'friend', by the name of Martha. She also starts seeing God, who just so happens to be a woman and loves chess. Cissy's grandmother, Janelle, is the only one that truly believes Cissy and is completely on her side. Even Cissy's mother, Caroline, wanted nothing to do with Cissy until her eyes were opened to the horror that her husband put their daughter through. I had a couple of qualms about the book. #1: The abuse was introduced, but was glanced over. I mean, it was in the middle of a chapter when it was disclosed what Richard had done to his daughter, and that was that. #2: Cissy seemed outgoing, I guess, than I think a girl would be if she had to put up with years of secrets and abuse. She was kind and forgiving, joyful even. There was absolutely no anger or malice that I felt from her. Even after she had been in the hospital for a while, she was a polite, almost congenial girl. #3: I think there could be a whole story built on the orderly that was fired because they thought he had abused Cissy. See, I can't even remember his name. That was a missed opportunity, I feel. #4: The ending. I was heartbroken with that ending. I really hope there's a sequel or something, because it just....ends. I loved The Last Suppers, but I'm feeling pretty mediocre about this one. Just...blah.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Quinn Ellory

    On the surface, Forgiveness Road by Mandy Mikulenkac seems like traditional Southern gothic. A family suffers tragedy, secrets come to light, and transformation occurs as the members struggle with the aftermath. It is that. It is also much, much more. The beautiful thing about this novel, set in Mississippi in 1976, is that it touches on so much more than tragedy. It also not about race or relationships centered on color disparity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with those books, but they are On the surface, Forgiveness Road by Mandy Mikulenkac seems like traditional Southern gothic. A family suffers tragedy, secrets come to light, and transformation occurs as the members struggle with the aftermath. It is that. It is also much, much more. The beautiful thing about this novel, set in Mississippi in 1976, is that it touches on so much more than tragedy. It also not about race or relationships centered on color disparity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with those books, but they are numerous. This book is recreshing, as much as a novel about a sixteen year old girl who kills her incestous father can be. Because this is not a book about incest or murder. It's about survival and love that crosses generations. When Cissy Pickering shoots her daddy, after years of sexual abuse, the fall out cripples everyone except her maternal grandmother, Janelle. It is Janelle's acts of love and sacrifice that enable Cissy, whose mind fractures and dissolves, to heal. The author imbues the narrative with hope, deftly weaving it through the fabric of pain, insanity, and shock that covers the characters, especially Cissy who is both wise and incredibly naive. There is nothing triggering about the book. Cissy's experiences are gently euphemised, as is the habit of polite Southern people who must talk of unspeakable things. Through the interactions of Cissy and her grandmother, and their battles with both physical and mental illness, we see strength shift from old to young, and a path to healing emerge from the darkness. This is a beautiful piece of fiction. It is real without bringing despair. Heartbreaking, but with redemption. It empties the reader, then fills them up and carries them to an ending both wrenching and satisfying. Make room for it on your reading list, and it just might steal your heart.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Forgiveness Road is the first book I have read by Mandy Mikulencak and it will not be the last. I thought this one was great. Five stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Strong character development and well written A powerful story of 3 generations of women. I would have never picked up this book due to the subject matter if it wasn't for my book club picking it. I felt uncomfortable about the subject matter many times, but I loved the characters. I loved that the author wasn't graphic, but my mind went right there which is why I was uncomfortable. This book was very well written with strong character development, something I really appreciate. I would have given Strong character development and well written A powerful story of 3 generations of women. I would have never picked up this book due to the subject matter if it wasn't for my book club picking it. I felt uncomfortable about the subject matter many times, but I loved the characters. I loved that the author wasn't graphic, but my mind went right there which is why I was uncomfortable. This book was very well written with strong character development, something I really appreciate. I would have given this book a 5, but I only gave it a 4 due to the subject matter. Great book! We had a great book club discussion too!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Clarke

    Is courage the ability to speak on the unspeakable or to act upon it. Cissy is willing to guarantee the safety of her sisters, with no thought of the consequences she will face. The struggle of three generations of women at a time when the housekeeper was more of a mother to the children. How do you come together when you've always been an arm length away. Love can heal some wounds and bring us back together.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Beverley Albright

    I won this book on the goodreads giveaway. I would give it a 3.5 if I could. It is not quite a 4, though it is very close. But that is just me putting my needs before the author's. The book is a story simply told...straightforward with very little embellishments along the way. Having said that, it definitely is not a simple story. The characters were the best part. What is stopping me from giving the full 4 rating, is that I would have liked to have seen a couple of the characters more fleshed out I won this book on the goodreads giveaway. I would give it a 3.5 if I could. It is not quite a 4, though it is very close. But that is just me putting my needs before the author's. The book is a story simply told...straightforward with very little embellishments along the way. Having said that, it definitely is not a simple story. The characters were the best part. What is stopping me from giving the full 4 rating, is that I would have liked to have seen a couple of the characters more fleshed out. I would have loved to have known some of the reasons for what they did and where they were. A few more complications would have been nice to throw in a bit of intensity. But the story was really about relationships and the author did explore that with courage and honesty.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I really enjoyed... Unique premises..... Easy read

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    This was an interesting read that drew me in. I didn't think it was a particularly good book in many ways. However, I was totally involved in the characters in spite of problems I had with the book. It starts intensely as 16-year-old Cissy follows her father out of the house and shoots him in the back as he is getting into his car. The why of this and the consequences of this act are the basis for the novel. The novel touches on many themes - sexual and domestic abuse, mental illness, family secr This was an interesting read that drew me in. I didn't think it was a particularly good book in many ways. However, I was totally involved in the characters in spite of problems I had with the book. It starts intensely as 16-year-old Cissy follows her father out of the house and shoots him in the back as he is getting into his car. The why of this and the consequences of this act are the basis for the novel. The novel touches on many themes - sexual and domestic abuse, mental illness, family secrets, female relationships, forgiveness in many forms, death and family dynamics. There were almost too many themes to do justice to the most important ones - one of the problems I had with the book. There were also times when the events were not wholly believable. It was easy to find myself trying to piece together how something could have really happened. The actions of the psychiatrist from the Greater Mississippi State Hospital, would be one example. And the ending was quite unrealistic to me. I can't imagine Cissy heading in the direction she did, particularly in light of the conversation she had just had with one of her sisters. Cissy herself was a bit of an enigma also. At times she seemed so naive and young for being a 16-year-old. I couldn't figure out if it was because of the time period (young girls didn't grow up as fast in the 1970's) or if it was exclusively part of the defense mechanisms an abused child would put into place along with her obsessive counting and organizing. In spite of all of this, these characters won me over and drew me into their story. The transformation of Cissy's grandmother Janelle may have been a bit unbelievable, but it was so heartwarming that I embraced it gladly. And Cissy inspired so much compassion in spite of and because of all of her quirkiness. So many of the women in this story were bearing or had born terrible things at the hands of society - Martha at the State Hospital, Rita in the diner in Nashville, Janelle and her housekeeper/friend Ruth, and, of course, Cissy. All of their stories could have deserved a whole book each! So these 4 stars are all emotional ones - if a book can pull me in so strongly in spite of flaws I could so readily feel, I need to recognize that power.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

    What do you do when killing someone is the only way to protect the people you love? If you are Cissy Pickering, you don't hesitate or stop to reconsider. You put a bullet in your father's brain one morning and blow everyone's world apart. And, if you are reading this book, you understand why. Noone should suffer what Cissy suffers at the hands of the man who should shield and protect her. The inevitable splintering of her mind, like the splintering of her family, is also justifiable. But this isn What do you do when killing someone is the only way to protect the people you love? If you are Cissy Pickering, you don't hesitate or stop to reconsider. You put a bullet in your father's brain one morning and blow everyone's world apart. And, if you are reading this book, you understand why. Noone should suffer what Cissy suffers at the hands of the man who should shield and protect her. The inevitable splintering of her mind, like the splintering of her family, is also justifiable. But this isn't a Southern gothic tale of twisted secrets and murder. Everything is laid out on the page with unflinching honesty from the beginning. No, this is a book about love and what it takes to survive when the unthinkable happens. While there are no details given about the abuse Cissy suffered, her fragility and tenuous grasp on reality are portrayed without apology. Her grandmother, Janelle's, stuggle to show Cissy the unconditional love she needs while also coming to grips with her own past trauma is also delivered in a moving narrative inlaid with hope and tentative optimism. As the strength shifts from Janelle to Cissy, the reader can see recovery creep in, imbuing both with courage and determination. This is a beautiful novel. As a fan of Southern fiction I love that this novel deals with situations other than race and social injustices. There is nothing wrong with those topics, but they are common to the point of ubiquitous, and this story is a welcome departure. The inter-generational aspect is also different, as Cissy and her grandmother have so much in common. There is little of old vs new guard, and this makes a refreshing read. Ms. Mikulencak helps us travel thorny path in Forgiveness Road. Insanity, infirmity, age, and faith all twist and turn. But as the reader approaches the end perhaps the best forgiveness gleaned from the pages is the kind we give ourselves when forgiving others proves impossible. Read, and decide for yourself.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (Simply Kelina) C.

    This story follows a family in the 70’s around an issue no family ever wants to face: sexual abuse. Your heart will break from the first few pages to the very end. This does have triggers for cutting, sexual abuse, mental health, family tensions, and more. Your heart will literally break for Cissy and what she is going through. This is a very raw look into sexual abuse by a family member and the way it can effect a child even after that person is no longer in their life. Some of the issues Cissy This story follows a family in the 70’s around an issue no family ever wants to face: sexual abuse. Your heart will break from the first few pages to the very end. This does have triggers for cutting, sexual abuse, mental health, family tensions, and more. Your heart will literally break for Cissy and what she is going through. This is a very raw look into sexual abuse by a family member and the way it can effect a child even after that person is no longer in their life. Some of the issues Cissy faces while in treatment are so true what survivors may go through once the abuse has stopped (or is still occurring). Cissy may have been facing some demons, but she also was so strong to stick up for herself and ensure the safety of her younger siblings. You get a look into what it may be like when a family member does not believe the abuse that had occurred. I really loved the grandmother, but she was also constantly blaming the mother of Cissy. It was a really powerful story. This is not an action packed story and is pretty slow paced. If you love reading about hard hitting issues, you will love this. If you need a little more action around this, you may want to pass on this one. Overall, I really enjoyed this one and it made me feel all the feels!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    "Only our minds keep those dark moments alive and breathing, and only our minds can put them to rest." A heartbreaking, yet amazing journey of a young girl, named Cissy. She has secrets that nobody should bare and yet a strong constitution and a delightful soul that will save her from hatred and allow her to someday love and once more trust. This novel is set in the 1970's in Mississippi. Cissy finds herself in a psychiatric facility for murder. Her biggest and only advocate is her grandmother who "Only our minds keep those dark moments alive and breathing, and only our minds can put them to rest." A heartbreaking, yet amazing journey of a young girl, named Cissy. She has secrets that nobody should bare and yet a strong constitution and a delightful soul that will save her from hatred and allow her to someday love and once more trust. This novel is set in the 1970's in Mississippi. Cissy finds herself in a psychiatric facility for murder. Her biggest and only advocate is her grandmother who not only believes in her granddaughter, but will do whatever she must to rescue her from this punishment. This includes kidnapping! The excursion is liberating for both granddaughter and grandmother and truly an in-depth look at heartache, pain, abuse and love to the maximum. This is an excellent story and the writing is phenomenal! Well done!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Gates

    I was excited to obtain an advanced copy of this new book, coming out in March! Once again, this author delivers a multi-layered, multi-generational story, a page turner that traverses a myriad of complex, seemingly unbearable situations,made bearable to the reader with her deft and astute writing style. Get ready because this one hits the ground running. I was hooked by page 10. The story explores how three generations of Southern Women come to terms with very heavy, very real issues. The chara I was excited to obtain an advanced copy of this new book, coming out in March! Once again, this author delivers a multi-layered, multi-generational story, a page turner that traverses a myriad of complex, seemingly unbearable situations,made bearable to the reader with her deft and astute writing style. Get ready because this one hits the ground running. I was hooked by page 10. The story explores how three generations of Southern Women come to terms with very heavy, very real issues. The characters are well developed, quirky and ultimately likable. I read this book in 2 days ( no judgement there was a snowstorm) and was sad when I finished. Can we say "sequel please", I am not ready to let Cissy go! It is a close call but I believe this book is my favorite from this author!! This one is a must read!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Norma Jean

    Ms. Mikulencak has written a compelling story of a sixteen year old girl, Cissy Pickering, who does the unthinkable. She kills her father by shooting him in the back. She is arrested and shows no remorse during questioning. All she will say is, “I had to do it to protect my little sisters.” Her mother turns on her, blaming her for ruining her life, but her grandmother, Janelle, does all that she can to protect Cissy. She hires an attorney who convinces the judge to send Cissy to a mental hospita Ms. Mikulencak has written a compelling story of a sixteen year old girl, Cissy Pickering, who does the unthinkable. She kills her father by shooting him in the back. She is arrested and shows no remorse during questioning. All she will say is, “I had to do it to protect my little sisters.” Her mother turns on her, blaming her for ruining her life, but her grandmother, Janelle, does all that she can to protect Cissy. She hires an attorney who convinces the judge to send Cissy to a mental hospital instead of prison. This is a very emotional story, filled with dysfunctional family drama. I was drawn into the story from the first chapter and couldn’t put the book down until the end. This is the first book I have read by this author, but it definitely won’t be the last. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sydney Cooley

    I loved this book! I was surprised at how much sweetness and healing was there within the sadness and trauma. I loved how 3 generations were able to start to heal their wounds among each other. The part where Grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter were laying in bed hugging each other and saying goodnight to Cissy brought tears to my eyes. Cissy is a strong, smart, and optimistic character. All the characters were believable and the behavior and coping mechanisms seemed to accurately reflect w I loved this book! I was surprised at how much sweetness and healing was there within the sadness and trauma. I loved how 3 generations were able to start to heal their wounds among each other. The part where Grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter were laying in bed hugging each other and saying goodnight to Cissy brought tears to my eyes. Cissy is a strong, smart, and optimistic character. All the characters were believable and the behavior and coping mechanisms seemed to accurately reflect what victims and families of abuse experience. It was a beautiful and sweet story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sonya Loyer

    I won this Advanced Reader's Cooy in a Goodreads Giveaway and it will be released February 26th. To be honest, my heart sank when my eyes saw the word incest but it happens before we enter the story. It's a rich, bittersweet, multilayered story of 3 generations. It's also a beautiful story of the love of a grandmother for her granddaughter and the lengths she will go for that love. OK, now I'm crying... I try to save 5 star ratings for books that I want to keep and reread. I'll be keeping this on I won this Advanced Reader's Cooy in a Goodreads Giveaway and it will be released February 26th. To be honest, my heart sank when my eyes saw the word incest but it happens before we enter the story. It's a rich, bittersweet, multilayered story of 3 generations. It's also a beautiful story of the love of a grandmother for her granddaughter and the lengths she will go for that love. OK, now I'm crying... I try to save 5 star ratings for books that I want to keep and reread. I'll be keeping this one.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    This is my first time reading this author, the blurb sounded interesting and I’m really pleased I chose to read this book. This is a story that is heartbreaking and yet it’s one that needed to be written. The author doesn’t just concentrate on the physical abuse that Cissy endures, she also goes into how this abuse outwardly manifested itself as Cissy struggles to gain some control over herself, her life. This is a riveting story that had me fervently reading page after page with an innate need This is my first time reading this author, the blurb sounded interesting and I’m really pleased I chose to read this book. This is a story that is heartbreaking and yet it’s one that needed to be written. The author doesn’t just concentrate on the physical abuse that Cissy endures, she also goes into how this abuse outwardly manifested itself as Cissy struggles to gain some control over herself, her life. This is a riveting story that had me fervently reading page after page with an innate need to continue reading. If abuse, specifically child abuse is a trigger for you then this may be a book you have to take a pass on. For those who can read it, then be prepared for a very well written book that is a definite page-turner and a must read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gloria Zak

    Loved the book. Thanks to the author and publisher for the opportunity to read this book through the goodreads giveaway program. I am normally a mystery reader, but this book had enough mystery to satisfy this mystery lover. There are sinners and heroes throughout this story and those who are both! Cissy is certainly a hero! And the story cannot end like this. It certainly needs a sequel! Cudos to the. Author!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marsha Lambert

    I gave this book 5 stars because although it’s is a heavy, serious subject that the story centers around,it is very well written and the family dynamics that emerge as the story goes on are heartwarming and touching. I definitely think this is worthy of a sequel so we can see how Cissy develops.

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