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15 Best Books on Forgiveness to Practice Empathy

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‘Forgiveness’ is a bit of a bittersweet thing to talk about; I think we tend to believe that as we get older, we get better at it, that it comes more naturally, we’re more mature about it… But it’s rarely ever that simple, right? A while ago, I got into an argument with one of my friends (over something pretty silly, in hindsight) and I just refused to talk to them. I tried cooling myself off but I honestly just could not stop being mad and at the same time, she was also a close friend—I didn’t want things to stay this way. 

I wanted to sort out my feelings and see if I could learn more about being a bigger person from folks that had (hopefully) figured it out better than I did, so I ended up picking up a book on forgiveness called ‘No products found.’. I was moved and impressed by how it handled a sensitive subject beautifully, thoughtfully and effectively as well, considering I was able to patch up things with my friend.  

I knew there was still a lot more to learn about forgiveness so I picked out a few reads, both fiction and nonfiction, to find out how they tackle the subject and what more insights were in store for me. So here are my best books on forgiveness, spread across a few genres including YA, Adult fiction, self help, and memoirs. These books are full of inspiring thoughts, practical tips, and healing stories that’ll help you understand and nurture forgiveness, empathy, and kindness all in one. Let’s find out how.

How I rated these books

I’m a mood reader, so whatever I felt at the end of the book makes it into my rating. But I considered a few more things when rating these books:

  • Whether their insight/plot is easy to grasp
  • Whether the content is interesting/actionable
  • How thought-provoking the books are
  • What other readers say about them

Best Books on Forgiveness List

Best Books on Forgiveness Reviews

Different genres handle the topic of forgiveness differently, so I separated my reviews into nonfiction and fiction so it’s easy for you to go through them cohesively. Let’s get started with nonfiction books on forgiveness to find out what forgiving means and how to go about it.

Nonfiction Books on Forgiveness

These books approach forgiveness analytically trying to piece together what forgiveness means from social, emotional, religious, and spiritual perspectives. Some books also document personal experiences and anecdotes on the act of forgiving, helping you really empathize with and learn from people who choose to forgive. Let’s get started.

1. The Choice – My Favorite

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This is the unforgettable story of Edith Eger, a sixteen-year-old ballerina sent to Auschwitz in 1944. Enduring unimaginable horrors, Edith’s resilience and life-affirming strength shine through as she survives the Holocaust and learns to live again after liberation.

This memoir is one the hardest reads of my life but I’m so glad I read through the many horrors in the book, because abandoning it halfway would have been disrespectful to the author and dismissive of the inhumanity she had to suffer. 

The Choice took me to Auschwitz, 1944. Young Edith, barely 16 years old, is separated from her family (who are sent to gas chambers) and forced to dance for Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor responsible for a vast number of lost lives. Suffering through and enduring horrors that I don’t dare repeat here, Edith makes it out of the death camp. 

She goes on to become a prominent psychologist, helping people like her work through their trauma and move on with their lives and I couldn’t help but be awed at the incredible strength and compassion she showed when rebuilding her scarred life. 

Her resilience and endless grace is what helps her heal from her own psychological scars left by unspeakable crimes that were committed in Auschwitz, and how she forgave that excruciating past with such strength and compassion was nothing short of incredible. 

For me, this book is more than a memoir. It’s a lesson in history and a reassuring reminder that even after facing unimaginable horrors, healing and finding joy is entirely possible because the strength to forgive can make us better people, helping us move past life’s bleakest moments.

I won’t promise this is an easy read, but Edith’s relentless strength shines through the darkness of it all, that instead of dwelling on the horrors you come across, you are bound to be inspired and moved by her story of resilience and forgiveness. 

  • Best for: Readers interested in real-life stories of resilience and forgiveness
  • Not for: Readers sensitive to detailed accounts of Holocaust experiences

2. The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World

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Tutu, with his experiences in post-apartheid South Africa, unveils a four-step magic formula for healing—admitting wrongs, sharing stories, asking for and granting forgiveness, and renewing relationships. It’s not just a guide; it’s a journey to break free from pain and revenge, offering us the keys to unlock personal and worldwide healing.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and has been famously involved in helping South Africa heal after years of apartheid, so I was naturally curious to see what he (and his daughter) wanted to share about forgiveness. 

Reading this was just as challenging as the last entry, since the stories the book carried about people who displayed forgiveness in unforgivable situations, were filled with so much raw honesty and the kind of pain that’s tough to put into words. That said, reading it was a refreshing and empowering experience because Tutu says forgiveness is not about letting go – but about not letting people off the hook. 

I was fascinated by this take on forgiveness because everything I had learned about it so far had some element of letting go. But Tutu’s path to forgiveness also included acknowledging damage done, holding the perpetrator accountable, and figuring out the best way to get on with your life. So as I understood it, Tutu does encourage letting go, but it comes from a place of empowerment where we lay the responsibility at the foot of the person who caused us pain.

For a short book, The Book of Forgiving packs a punch. It shares this four-step process for forgiveness which is about empowering ourselves as much as it’s about healing. The lived experiences of people who forgave so many atrocities might make this a little tough to read, but ultimately, they are proof that forgiveness is not only freeing but also achievable. I definitely recommend picking this book up for an insightful, inspiring, and outside-the-box guide on forgiveness, healing, and moving on toward a better life.

  • Best for: Anyone wanting guidance on forgiveness and personal growth
  • Not for: Readers looking for a fictional narrative on forgiveness

3. Forgive: Why Should I and How Can I?

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Timothy Keller, a pastor and New York Times bestselling author, explores the profound necessity of forgiveness in our lives. He highlights how difficult it is to forgive and the consequences of not forgiving, emphasizing forgiveness as an essential skill, moral imperative, and a religious belief central to our humanity.

Written by a pastor, this book draws on Christian teachings about forgiveness to share a religious perspective on the topic that I hadn’t really thought about before. Not going to lie, I really did feel like this book was an educational, inspiring read on forgiveness. 

Keller looks at what has been said about forgiveness in philosophy and history, acknowledges the universally accepted need for forgiveness, and then explores how to actually forgive. To give us a guide to forgive, he turns to the Bible and explains how to forgive from a theological perspective. He doesn’t shy away from the complexities of the scriptures; instead, he shows us how to adopt the Christian teachings of forgiveness in practice, allowing the reader to follow a clearly-defined path toward forgiveness. 

Keller doesn’t pretend forgiving is easy though and what I liked about it the most is that he doesn’t make you feel bad about finding it tough to forgive. In fact, he champions forgiveness that doesn’t sacrifice justice or humanity, and breaks down how to go about it. 

The book outlines how forgiving is an act of strength and honestly, I’m all here for it: “forgiveness is always expensive to the forgiver, but the benefits – at the very least within your heart, and at the best in the restoration of relationship and a witness to the power of the gospel – outweigh the cost.

Not only did this read help me examine the way I look at forgiveness, it also helped me understand how to navigate conflicts with grace and understanding. So if you’ve ever asked yourself the two questions laid out in the title – ‘why should I forgive?’ and ‘how should I forgive?’ – this book can help you find the answers to both.

  • Best for: Readers looking for a religious perspective and practical guidance on forgiveness
  • Not for: Readers who prefer a non-religious guide on forgiveness

4. The Gift of Forgiveness: Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable

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Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt explores the transformative nature of forgiveness through personal stories, sharing intimate insights, poignant quotes, and profound wisdom. The book, with its lived experiences of forgiveness, serves as a guide for readers seeking acceptance, grace, and peace through the act of forgiveness.

I picked up this book for my forgiveness books binge because the premise was interesting with its collection of personal stories. Pratt has interviewed 22 people who had to forgive other people and even themselves for acts of cruelty they’ve experienced in any capacity, and what they had to say about forgiveness was truly inspiring.

The narratives were so intimate that I almost felt like I was eavesdropping on conversations that I’m not privy to, revealing each narrator’s desire and struggle to forgive, and their approach to forgiveness. The author adds her own commentary to each story, giving a third person POV to the extremely personal narratives that are shared.

One story that stayed with me is about a series of killings in Rwanda, where a majority group tried to obliterate a minority group. The murders had halted with the involvement of a third party, but bringing the perpetrators to justice had not been easy because there were just too many people involved. So instead of taking the legal route, the perpetrators and the survivors were motivated to take the moral high road, asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness after a face-to-face confrontation organized by local councils. I was moved beyond words with this story because I couldn’t fathom how a series of horrific acts could be forgiven this way, but it just went on to show how forgiveness has immense power to heal and help us move on from any atrocity.

Pratt also shows how forgiveness doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach as she examines all 22 stories of people who had to forgive different kinds of pain and hurt. I did feel like the author tried to insert herself too much into the stories which grated on me a little bit after the first few stories, but all in all, this collection of personal narratives is worth a read if you’re struggling with forgiveness. 

  • Best for: Readers interested in real-life experiences of forgiveness
  • Not for: Reader who prefer a fictional or lighthearted read on forgiveness

5. Total Forgiveness

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R.T. Kendall unveils a path to inner peace, drawing from the gospel’s core messages of total forgiveness. He explores the consequences of holding onto grudges, urging readers to identify unforgiveness in themselves and to embrace forgiveness to achieve freedom and peace.

Total Forgiveness by R. T. Kendall is another book drawing on theology and spirituality, and I have to say I found it an engaging, educational read. He focuses a lot on ‘unforgiveness’ – our tendency to hold on to grudges, regret, and shame – and I found it to be a fresh perspective in my reading experience on forgiveness. 

Kendall shares real-life instances of forgiveness and unforgiveness that are immensely helpful in understanding his message of total forgiveness. He makes it clear how holding on to grudges can weigh you down emotionally, physically, and spiritually, pushing the reader to practice forgiving others with practical, applicable tips. 

This practicality and relatability in the book come from Kedall’s personal experience with forgiveness and his familiarity with Biblical teaching because he combines experience and theology to help the reader understand ‘unforgiveness’ and to inspire total forgiveness. 

I was fascinated by the idea of ‘unforgiveness’ because I could relate to it, because of some grudges from the past I still hold on to and some regrets that often come to my mind on a rainy day. My key takeaway from the book about these petty emotions was that they need to be rooted out if I am to achieve total peace of mind. 

So check this book out if you’re reeling from regrets and holding on to grudges you want to let go of, because Total Forgiveness teaches how to work through the ‘unforgiveness’ in us and be free of negative thoughts affecting your peace. 

  • Best for: Individuals seeking guidance on forgiveness, readers who want a spiritual perspective on forgiveness
  • Not for: Readers who prefer fiction or non-religious content on forgiveness

6. Forgiveness: 21 Days to Forgive Everyone for Everything

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Iyanla Vanzant offers a potent 21-Day Forgiveness Plan, breaking readers free from stagnant relationships and toxic emotions. Addressing romance, family, and work dynamics, Vanzant leads the reader on a journey of self-discovery and healing through journaling and Emotional Freedom Techniques.

Vanzant’s book with its 21-Day Forgiveness Plan was a game-changer in my forgiveness books binge because for me, reading it felt like I was on a personal journey of self-discovery and healing. 

The way this book is structured, you could either read it in one go or you could spend 21 days reading each chapter. I suggest the latter if you can allocate the time because Vanzant takes you on the journey of forgiveness across all 21 days, sharing a single exercise in forgiving each day.

I really loved how the guide wasn’t just talk – the author gave us practical tips like journaling and ‘tapping’ that can actually be implemented super easily. What stood out to me mostly though, was how she talked about forgiveness in all sorts of relationships – family, work, romance, and even the relationship you have with yourself, showing how simple acts of forgiveness can go a long way in fostering healthy relationships and empowering oneself.       

Vanzant’s writing is easy to follow, even when she’s discussing emotionally intense themes. Her practical exercises are crafted to clear out your energy and manifest what you really want, so even though it might be tough to look at forgiveness with cheer rather than introspection, this book helps you approach the subject with positivity and an upbeat mindset. 

I spent the actual 21 days reading this book and I can promise you I completed the book feeling content and free, so if you want a practical, step-by-step guide on forgiving, you should give this one a try. 

  • Best for: Readers looking for a step-by-step guide on how to forgive and heal
  • Not for: Readers who prefer fiction or religion-based books on forgiveness

Fiction Books on Forgiveness

Fiction books carry forgiveness as a theme and help us understand what it means to forgive by giving us characters we can relate to. They give us a well-crafted story and by extension, an immersive experience of forgiving, redemption, and moving on. Let’s see how it works.

7. The Kite Runner – My Favorite

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In 1970s Afghanistan, Amir and his friend Hassan’s lives are forever changed by a kite-fighting tournament. Fleeing to America after the Russian invasion, Amir recognizes that true redemption lies in returning to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

The Kite Runner has been on my TBR forever and when I realized it’s a perfect fit for my reading marathon on forgiveness, I picked it up immediately – only to cry my way through an achingly tender story of friendship, betrayal, and redemption. 

Amir, the son of a wealthy man, and Hassan, their servant’s son, have been inseparable growing up with Amir reading to illiterate Hassan and Hassan protecting the timid Amir from bullies. All is well until one fateful kite-fighting tournament when Amir betrays Hassan so he could win and make his father proud – trust me when I tell you I haven’t disliked a main character as much as I disliked Amir then.

It did appease me a bit to see that he grapples with intense guilt throughout the story and I loved how Hosseini made the adult Amir take a long journey – both literal and metaphorical – for redemption and forgiveness from his childhood friend.

The way Hassan forgave Amir even without an explicit apology was a teaching moment for me too, because it led me to think that if Hassan can forgive his friend after a betrayal like that without a second thought, surely I could forgive my friend, too. 

The story has beautiful character development too—the moment I actually stopped hating Amir was when he stood up for Hassan’s son, Sohrab. His actions showed me that while the past is not reversible, it is entirely possible to learn from it and choose to do the right thing the next time. So as much as I disliked Amir’s character, I have to say I’m fully on board with his arc as he actively seeks forgiveness and redemption and finally learns to forgive himself through Hassan’s grace.

The broken friendship between two boys connects the themes of family, war, and secrets that tear relationships apart and along the way, makes The Kite Runner a devastating yet healing story about friendship and forgiveness. This is a great book to learn how forgiveness is capable of healing and transforming people, but pick this up only if you’re ready to cry a river – I mean it. 

  • Best for: Readers who enjoy emotional stories about friendship and redemption  
  • Not for: Those looking for lighthearted reads or action-packed stories

8. Reminders of Him

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After Kenna serves time for a tragic mistake that killed her boyfriend, she tries to reach out to his parents who are raising her daughter as their own. But the past is too painful and the grief so vast that the forgiveness and the redemption she desperately looks for seems nearly impossible to come about.

I had read Reminders of Him before, but my forgiveness books binge made me look at this book in a new light because I was re-thinking how forgiveness is possible in a tragedy like this story, if at all. 

Kenna, our FMC, is a young mother who has never even held her little daughter, Diem, as Kenna was already serving time when Diem was born. My heart said Kenna needs to meet her daughter, get to know her better, and be a part of her life, but when I thought about the heartbreak Kenna caused with her tragic mistake that killed Diem’s father, Scotty, I was left wondering if she should be redeemed at all. 

But as the story progresses, Hoover gives us the chance to truly understand that Kenna is also a victim of the tragedy because she lost the love of her life, a chance at a happy family with Scotty and his parents, and the right to be near her daughter. 

I could sympathize with the Landry’s (Scotty’s parents) too because they lost their only son and now, the woman whose mistake led to his death is back in their lives. I didn’t like how they got a restraining order against Kenna when she didn’t even try to contact Diem, but in their shoes, I guess I can understand where their anxiety is coming from. 

Hoover really threw me in a loop because I didn’t know whom to root for – Kenna, with her persistent hope and kindness even when she’s wronged OR Landrys with their love and fiercely protective nature toward Diem. 

In the end though, we come to understand that nothing is as black and white as we think they are, and in a tragedy this size, anyone is a victim, deserving of kindness and understanding. 

This is an all-consuming story that shows how difficult forgiveness is and then goes on to show how worthy it is to forgive, even something we see as impossible to forgive. So pick this up for a read full of love, second chances, and the power of forgiveness and you won’t regret it.  

  • Best for: Readers who like emotional stories about second chances and forgiveness
  • Not for: Readers who want a guide on how to forgive

9. The Storyteller

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Sage, a baker with a haunting past, befriends Josef, an elderly man in her grief group. When Josef reveals a buried secret and makes a request only Sage can grant, she is met with a dilemma that challenges her beliefs about family, justice, and forgiveness.

Jodi Picault is a writer I can always count on to tear my heart to bits and then piece them back together with her soul-searching stories, so picking up The Storyteller was a no brainer for me. This was a story about survivor’s guilt and forgiveness, tackling incredibly sensitive topics like Holocaust, death of a parent, and assisted suicide. 

I loved reading about the unlikely friends, Sage and Josef, how their friendship grew, and how it was put to the test as long buried secrets came to surface. For me, Sage and Josef truly felt like real people. I could sympathize with her grief of losing her mother and how being physically scarred was a constant reminder of that grief. I was convinced by Josef’s reasons behind his request to Sage, no matter how bizarre it was. 

Josef wanting to break away from his past self was heartbreaking, because it made me think about how long he’s had to live with the burden of what he did in the past, and how long he’s had to hide his past for fear of rejection from people around him. Even though I had trouble coming to terms with the fact that Josef and what he represents (or at least, represented) could be forgiven, I was awed at how Sage handled it. 

She was already battling survivor’s guilt after her mother’s death, and to take on a part of her new friend’s secret and then the appalling request… Sage sure is a stronger, more resilient person than she seems at first because she finds it in herself to show kindness to this elderly stranger who is tragically connected to her own family. 

I can’t say more without spoiling it, but Picault weaves a story where the truth has so many perspectives, showing that understanding and kindness can truly make space for forgiveness – even if seemingly impossible at first glance.  

So go for this book if you want an emotional read that shows you that forgiveness is possible for even the harrowing of crimes – only if we make an effort to be compassionate and understanding. 

  • Best for: Readers who enjoy emotionally charged stories
  • Not for: Readers looking for a light-hearted read

10. The Language of Flowers

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Victoria spent her entire childhood in foster care, she is mistrustful and unable to get close to anybody. She discovers a talent for communicating with the language of flowers and finds that she can help others as a florist. But will she find it in herself to forgive her own past for a better future?

Despite the title that gave the impression of being lighthearted, this book wasn’t an easy read at all. It was full of heartbreak, loneliness, and trials caused by the failed foster care experience of Victoria Jones, our MC. 

I’m not even sure if I like Victoria because she grew up to be stubborn and irritable, always putting up walls to keep people from getting close to her. But then again, as a child, she has experienced nothing but abandonment and mistrust owing to a care system that has not been able to care for her, so despite my initial dislike, it was difficult not to feel for her. This was because the story alternates between the past and the present, giving heartbreaking answers from Victoria’s past as to why she might be behaving in a certain way in the present. 

What I understood from her childhood, where she was seemingly abandoned, was that she needed to be able to break away from that past to move on with her new life. I loved that Elizabeth, her foster mother, apologized for her own part in Victoria’s childhood struggles because that acknowledgement itself was enough for Victoria to start forgiving her past and consequently, herself. 

The way flowers became a means for Victoria to communicate was absolutely beautiful, because it showed that she’s ready to connect with people and move on with her life. For someone who was hardened by circumstances, Victoria’s ability to relate to others with the gracefulness of flowers managed to soften her as a character, making me root for her in the end. 

If you’d like a read about forgiving oneself and moving on from a difficult past, The Language of Flowers would be a great pick, but be prepared to get sucked into a story about a difficult childhood and healing found through forgiveness – and of course, flowers. 

  • Best for: Readers who enjoy emotionally rich stories with unique themes
  • Not for: Readers who don’t want an an intense read about forgiveness

11. Where She Went – My First Read on Forgiveness

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Three years after a heartbreaking accident separates Mia and Adam, chance brings them back together in New York for one night, reopening old wounds and letting them confront the past they never confronted. If forgiveness and understanding is a possibility, they might just have a chance at rekindling their love.

Where She Went is the sequel to a book called If I Stay and I’ve read (cried about) both of them as an impressionable teen. Now, I don’t want to talk about the first book a lot because the second book is the one that explores forgiveness as a theme, but I feel like a brief recap might help put two and two together. 

If I Stay follows Mia, who loses the will to live because a horrific car wreck takes the lives of her entire family, and how Adam, her boyfriend, convinces her that her life is worth living. He puts their relationship on the line as he tries to persuade her, and this is where the second book’s plot shapes up. 

Where She Went starts out a few years later with Mia and Adam split up and now belonging to wholly different worlds. Mia is studying music in Juilliard, still processing her grievous loss a few years ago. Adam is a famous rockstar, hurt and angry after their messy breakup that he still hasn’t moved past.

A chance meeting in New York forces them to confront the unresolved feelings they both have been avoiding, allowing them to begin healing and to forgive each other. I liked how realistically their confrontation was portrayed even though it was sometimes ugly and difficult to read. I don’t mean the language was difficult – it wasn’t. It’s just the emotional heaviness in the book was sometimes too much that I actually had to take a break from reading it.

But for the record, I loved Where She Went. I loved how, for both Mia and Adam, their music helped vent out emotions and process them. Though belonging to different genres, Mia’s soulful music and Adam’s angry lyrics became tools for them to help navigate difficult emotions, eventually helping them voice out their hurt and truths they’ve been hiding from each other. 

This is a book that tells you how difficult the process of forgiveness is, but it doesn’t deter you from the act of forgiving at all. It shows us that healing and starting anew is possible – only you need to be willing to face the emotions that come with confronting the past wrongs to make them right.

  • Best for: Those who appreciate simple and beautiful writing
  • Not for: Readers who want an easy read about forgiveness

12. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

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Harold Fry, a retired Englishman, often finds himself at odds with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does. One day, Harold receives an unexpected letter from Queenie Hennessy, a woman he hasn’t spoken to in 20 years and is now in a hospice. Chance prompts him to embark on a six-hundred-mile pilgrimage to deliver his response in person, but will this journey help him reconcile with the past and eventually with his wife?

A member of my book club suggested that I read Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry when I asked for book recommendations on forgiveness. I’m so glad I read this because Harold’s story talked about lifelong commitment, friendship, humility, self-forgiveness, and kindness in such a heartfelt way that I couldn’t help but sympathize with all the characters.

Harold’s journey to deliver a letter to his dying friend at a hospice six hundred miles from home was such an unusual start, I was immediately hooked. Harold is tired, full of self-hate, and incapable of fixing his broken marriage, so I was super curious to find out if this journey would help him heal and change him for the better. 

Harold’s determination to continue on with the belief that his journey would save his friend’s life was so heartwarming, and I loved that he had the courage to reflect back as he went forward. I also loved seeing him meet different people, reminisce about his past, learn to cherish good memories, let go of the bad ones, and finally, learn to forgive himself and his loved ones. And as I followed Harold along his journey, I found myself thinking about confronting the past in order to let go of it and also the power of making amends. 

This is a book about love and life, exploring the complexities of loss, regret, and finding inner peace, so if that sounds like a read you’re looking for, Harold’s story is a must-read.

  • Best for: Readers who enjoy heartwarming tales of self-discovery 
  • Not for: Readers who prefer fast-paced plots or action-packed stories

13. Chlorine Sky

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Sky, a young girl, is faced with the choices of conforming to her best friend Lay Li’s ways or moving on from their friendship. Having to confront what she really wants and who she wants to be, Sky is torn between the harsh familiarity of their friendship and the heartbreaking possibility of a friend-breakup.

This is a unique YA novel written in simple, beautiful verse, so I was curious to find out how this genre and this particular style of writing would bring out the theme of forgiveness. And let me just start out by saying that Browne didn’t disappoint on any account.

I love reading about friendship, and set in the turbulent years of growing up, this story made for a heart-wrenching and healing experience at the same time. That’s probably because Sky and her emotional journey of being cast away by her best friend and learning to move on from that hurt took me back to my own high school years and friends from back then I no longer call friends. 

I think most of us can relate to a friend breakup because there’s always that one close friend who grows up differently, pushing us in opposite directions until we are far too apart to be called friends. Sky has it even harder, because her best friend Lay Li abandons her when Sky is no longer ‘cool’ enough for Lay Li. 

Chlorine Sky takes us along for the ride as Sky grapples with the insecurities about her looks and interests intensified by the abandonment and the bullying that follows, showing us how she comes to truly understand who she is and the kind of relationships she deserves. I couldn’t be happier for her when she found the confidence in herself to move on from the hurt, make new friends, and even find love. 

This poignant coming-of-age story was a reminder for me that cherished friendships can turn sour and if they do, we need to learn how to move on and heal from it – like Sky does. 

Reading this book was such a soulful experience for me, because of the style of writing, delicate subject, and how relevant it was to the issue I was having that made me dive into this list in the first place. If you’d like to dive into a read about growing up and apart, moving on, and forgiving the past, Sky’s story might hit the mark.

  • Best for: Readers who enjoy introspective stories about the trials of growing up
  • Not for: Readers who prefers action-packed stories

14. The Summer of Lost Letters

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Seventeen-year-old Abby discovers love letters from her grandmother’s past, leading her to Nantucket to meet Noah, the grandson of the mystery man in the letters. Together, they unravel family secrets, confronting their pasts and if they’re lucky, finding love.

Family secrets and betrayals are sometimes the hardest to forgive, and that’s what Hannah Reynolds explores so delicately in The Summer of Lost Letters. I picked up this book because I thought the premise about discovering family history was interesting, but I quickly realized it’s also about forgiveness and coming to terms with a past that cannot be erased. 

Abby gets hold of a bunch of old love letters belonging to her grandma who passed away recently, written by an ‘Edward’ in Nantucket. The contents in the mysterious letters don’t add up with the grandma Abby knows, so she decides to investigate. 

What she finds is a love story that turned sour without a happy ending, and a lot of past secrets that can hurt the present relationships of Abby’s family and Edward’s family. There are some heavy, painful memories coming up as Abby digs deeper, and as she finds more well-kept secrets, the more challenging it becomes for her to process her grief of losing her grandma and this hidden past she uncovers. That said though, she and her reluctant helper, Noah, work through misunderstandings and a lot of ‘she said-he said’ to piece together a truth they both acknowledge and come to terms with. 

This is part summer read and part love story between Abby and Noah so it’s a lighthearted read, but I loved how the heavier themes of family secrets, forgiveness, and moving on were explored as Abby and Noah dug into their family histories and learned about the painful pasts they both have come from. 

So if you want a light read peppered with summer vibes, family dynamics, and moving on, The Summer of Lost Letters might be up your alley. 

  • Best for: Readers looking for a lighthearted read on forgiveness and moving on 
  • Not for: Readers who prefer adult fiction on forgiveness

15. Heartbreakers and Fakers

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Highschooler Penny’s popular life gets messed up when she accidentally kisses her enemy, Kai. To win back their exes, Penny and Kai fake a relationship but as summer unfolds, Penny questions her true feelings and the life she’s fighting for.

I picked this up for my forgiveness read-athon because it was tagged on Goodreads as a book about forgiveness. The premise did sound like every other popular YA romance, but I decided to trust the tags added by reviewers and that’s how I ended up with a YA novel that delivered a lot more than the romance and the angst. 

The book was a kicker right from the start. The popular highschool student Penny drunkenly kisses Kai, her long-time enemy and her best friend Olivia’s boyfriend, while Penny’s own boyfriend, Jordan, is in the picture. The plot was quintessentially highschool that I actually got caught up in the drama and forgot why I was reading the book. So for example, Penny and Kai start fake-dating to win back their exes (still not sure how the logic worked here), Penny and Olivia’s friendship takes a hit thanks to the accidental kiss, and Olivia and Jordan seem to be getting closer. Like I said, drama. 

But this tangle of relationships caused by misunderstandings and petty feelings set the stage for Penny to self-reflect and realize that popularity and the perfection she was after is not what she truly wants. As her character arc pans out, she learns the importance of forgiveness, in both asking for it and granting it, allowing her to build her relationships anew, with more self-awareness and humility.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this just for the teenage drama in the story, but I can’t deny that forgiveness had a central role to play because it was the key to start mending broken relationships. Go for this book if you want a heartfelt, nostalgic and at times a little ridiculous story about relationships, growing up, and forgiveness.    

  • Best for: Readers who like a lighthearted YA romance on forgiveness
  • Not for: Readers who prefer adult fiction or mature presentation of forgiveness

And that wraps up my list of best books of forgiveness. Through it all, I think I came to a much better understanding of asking for forgiveness and granting it. This list contains books from a few genres including contemporary fiction, self-help, young adult fiction, and religious fiction, so you might find what exactly is the best book for you to explore the extremely delicate and essential practice of forgiveness. Happy reading folks!

What Are Some ‘Must Read’ Books on Forgiveness?

No products found. is a must-read non-fiction book on forgiveness because it provides practical solutions to cultivate forgiveness in our lives. Iyanla Vanzant’s 21-Day Forgiveness Plan is a great start to understanding your relationship dynamics with the people around you and yourself, learning to open your heart to more love, gain new clarity in your life, and discover a new level of personal freedom, peace, and well-being.

Colleen Hoover’s No products found. is a great recommendation for fiction lovers out there. This contemporary romance, woven around a young mother reaching out for her daughter she’s never met after serving time for a tragic mistake, is all about second chances, forgiveness, and redeeming love. 

No products found. is another great read when it comes to books on forgiveness. This beautifully written, moving memoir is a practical guide to healing from a painful past and finding the greatest gifts of freedom and forgiveness.

What to read next

If you want to read about learning from the past, handling trauma, and moving on toward a better place, ‘No products found.’ is a really good book to pick up. Check out my full book review of ‘What Happened to You?’ to see if you’ll like it!

I’ve covered a few more sensitive and insightful topics with a collection of self-help books and reviews: you might find a few interesting books to keep your TBR full!

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