cover image Triumph of the Heart: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World

Triumph of the Heart: Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World

Megan Feldman Bettencourt. Penguin/Hudson Street, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-59463-263-1

Journalist Bettencourt presents a study on the implications, both sociological and personal, of forgiveness. She outlines physiological research linking resentment to an increased risk of heart disease and depression, and forgiveness to reverses in both. Evolutionary psychologists note innate human tendencies toward both vengeance and reconciliation, explaining that a pragmatic need for collaboration often inspires people to embrace the latter. Delving into the topic of forgiveness leads to a wealth of inspirational figures, including a father who forgave his son’s killer and formed an foundation to reduce gang violence, and a woman who narrowly escaped death during the Rwandan genocide, finding strength through her Christian faith and reconciling with her surviving family. A recovering alcoholic explains the importance of making amends during the 12-step recovery process, and a young woman describes the harrowing process of forgiving her rapist father. This journey through different narratives ends powerfully at a “forgiveness ceremony” at a Colorado retreat for at-risk youth. Bettencourt also intersperses installments of her own story throughout, self-deprecatingly calling it an “unoriginal collection of mediocre complaints.” This compelling investigation into an important subject may well inspire readers to give the concept of forgiveness a bigger place in their lives. [em](Aug.) [/em]