A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee is a handbook on crisis management. Ben needs to ask for forgiveness of his wife, his daughter, his law partners, and his neighbors; while in the process he losses everything and does some jail time. His wife, Helen, leaves him with their adopted middle school daughter, Sara, for NYC after she lands a job in a PR agency. She becomes a star as she advises the clients to apologize and rises very quickly. After her boss dies in an auto accident; she is then hired by the top PR agency to join their crisis management team. Suddenly, an old grade school classmate, Hamilton Barth, who is now a huge Hollywood star, runs afoul after a reunion the two have at one of his film’s premieres at the Ziegfeld in NYC. Hamilton contacts Helen for help. In the meantime Sara and her father are communicating after his jail time. It turns out he does have some money left and buys the house they all lived in in Rensselaer Valley.
As Helen grows in her job she learns about forgiveness herself. For someone who has a natural ability to advise others about asking for or granting forgiveness, she is bereft of it herself. Ben discovers much about himself in his acts of contrition. Sara forgives her parents. The lesson learned here is we all need to ask for forgiveness and grant it. It is a double-edged sword and a full circle kind of phenomenon in life. It reminds me of one of my mottos as a teacher when dealing with the administration, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission.”
Although this novel was written in 2013, during Lance Armstrong’s moment of clarity and contrition, I was stunned at how appropriate it was for today’s major topic, fake news. In scenes at the PR agency, Helen is confronted with the negative side of the industry as it creates fake web sites, blogs, and news all to further the careers of their clients. It is as if Dee has a crystal ball as he goes into some detail of how fake news is created, generated, and successful as he observes and reports on the culture that will allow for the election of 2016.
On a very personal note, Jonathan Dee was in a seventh grade English class, I taught my first year of teaching. I’m glad I didn’t damage his writing skills. It is always ajoy to read one his novels and to watch his success.