I THOUGHT WE'D NEVER SPEAK AGAIN: The Road from Estrangement to Reconciliation

Laura Davis, Author . HarperCollins $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-019762-9

Families, partnerships and friendships can break up over what appear to be surmountable conflicts, and efforts at damage control are often unproductive. Davis (coauthor, The Courage to Heal), a counselor to survivors of childhood sexual abuse, does an excellent job of mapping out an effective reconciliation process. She explains how to rationally assess the possibility of success, recognize the value of partial reconciliation and establish the rules of engagement. Throughout the book are riveting first-person stories—by a neglectful mother who made amends with her grown children, a man who organized a reconciliation workshop between children of Holocaust victims and children of Nazis, and many others—that illustrate how compassion, honesty and the ability to listen are indispensable. Davis's book is most useful as a guide to reconciliation with intimates; when she extends the scope to include restorative justice initiatives, the issues become somewhat muddied. The needs of violent crime victims and offenders in mediation programs, for example, don't seem exactly the same as those of feuding families and friends. Without a discussion of those differences, the concepts of reconciliation and forgiveness can be confused with empowerment and revenge. In addition, for crime victims and discrimination victims, the social pressure to "get over it" can be fierce, something Davis touches on only briefly. Nonetheless, her insight, clear writing and especially the extensive personal anecdotes should be helpful to readers struggling with these issues. Agent, Charlotte Raymond. (Apr. 2)

Forecast:As the publisher points out, attitudes toward forgiveness have changed since September 11, which could help sales. A pub date coinciding with National Reconciliation Day will facilitate media tie-ins.

Reviewed on: 04/01/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
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