Forgiveness 4 You

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Gabriel McKenna is an ex-Catholic priest, and with his quiet job at a quiet bookstore, he is—slowly—rebuilding his life. But even at the bookstore, people from all walks of life find their way to him and feel compelled to share their stories and reveal to him their deepest, guiltiest secrets. One of these people is Madeline Murray, a high-powered advertising executive, who, hours after her weepy confession, has a revelation: If she felt so comforted by this stranger, perhaps there’s something remunerative to his consoling abilities. Madeline has a vision: a business that will offer a secular form of confession and forgiveness—the comforts of religion, without the religion. Without knowing exactly how it happened (and whether any of it is morally sound) Gabriel is transformed by Madeline and her colleagues into the centerpiece of the forgiveness brand.


"An intriguing sort of moral chicanery underlies Ann Bauer’s novel Forgiveness 4 You. This is an intelligent, thought-provoking and quietly unnerving work about the corporatization of holy offices. I don’t even think one can call it a satire, which may be the most troubling thing about it." —The Wall Street Journal
“A warmly satirical novel…ultimately the book is more interested in affairs of the soul than of the heart.” —Slate
"Humorously, compassionately and cynically, forgiveness becomes a business in this compelling novel, which in many ways asks the reader, 'What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?'" —The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“This novel is fresh and original, and the wholly satisfying ending doesn’t at all take the easy way out.” —Library Journal
"Through a series of emails, text transcripts and feverish memos developing Forgiveness 4 You as a brand, interspersed with Gabe’s first-person narration, the novel swings between comedy and tragedy, all while meditating on the themes of guilt and forgiveness. Bauer writes with humor and compassion about a business that is both bizarre and entirely all too real and the flawed and ultimately human characters behind it." —Kirkus
"The author of previous novels, including The Forever Marriage (2012), has crafted an exploration of absolution that manages to be simultaneously irreverent and compassionate. Bauer is adept at quickly drawing characters during their impromptu confession sessions with McKenna. The ex-priest himself, lost and lonely, is a moving and relatable example of human frailty. It’s a well-rounded reminder that sometimes the hardest person to forgive is oneself." —Booklist
"Bauer is a big-hearted, graceful writer who's asking big questions through popular culture." —St. Paul Pioneer Press
“I love all of Ann Bauer's writing, but what makes this book so special is how wonderfully humane it is. It's a rare thing for a story to be so sharp and yet so compassionate, but Forgiveness 4 You manages to send up craven ad execs and make your heart hurt for them at the same time. It might even make you be a little kinder to yourself about your own past transgressions, which speaks to the depth and soul of this brilliant novel.” —Jessica Grose,author of Sad Desk Salad
Forgiveness 4 You is probing, startlingly honest, and remarkably empathic. Ann Bauer’s scrutiny of hunger for absolution crossing into the fearsome unbounded web, where religion goes online, and advertisers attempt to monetize the process, provides strong answers suffused with compassion. This story is as captivating and strikingly written as it is provocative. I inhaled this novel.” —Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Murderer’s Daughters, The Comfort of Lies & Accidents of Marriage
“In this engrossing novel, Ann Bauer turns her sharp and empathetic eye on a cast of broken people trying to find meaning in an increasingly cynical world. In the tradition of George Saunders, Forgiveness 4 You imagines a near future where everything—even grace—can be commodified, but where our better angels still wield surprising power.” —Christopher Castellani, author of All This Talk of Love
“At turns touching, insightful, and deliciously cynical, Forgiveness 4 You is a rare novel, indeed. Its premise is wholly original, and it addresses both profound human struggles and current popular culture with humor and compassion. Terrific for book clubs, it’s sure to spark plenty of laughter and debate.” —Susan Jane Gilman, bestselling author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress and The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street
“A poignant and very funny story about the advertising of redemption and, yes, the redemption of advertising. And like all good ex-Catholic priests, Gabriel McKenna bears a secret in his soul. Amen, I say. Forgiveness 4 You is Graham Greene for the Age of Twitter.” —Martin Kihn, Author of House of Lies and Bad Dog (A Love Story)