The Apology Box + Giveaway
When sixteen-year-old Tessa's small mountain community is ravaged by a forest ﬁre, people come together to heal. Except Tessa. Because she set the blaze.
This debut novel by Naomi Ulsted follows Tessa as she tries to pull a new life from the ashes of a big mistake. When the judge hands out a sentence of massive ﬁnes, community service and 227 apology letters - one for every person whose life she's ruined - Tessa wishes she'd been sent to prison, that life behind bars might be better than the one she's forced to live. Choked by shame and resentment, and shunned by her friends and neighbours, the only person she can lash out at is herself. An unlikely friendship, a painful discovery, and a box full of apology letters may be the only chance Tessa has at redemption.
This book is one that the younger audience may enjoy better. Not to say that I did not like it but I just found myself not relating or connecting with Tessa as well. She did come off as a teenager with the way she acted. This was present in the way she spoke, reacted to her sentence for starting the wildfire and her letters to the victims.
I liked the idea of Tessa having to write letters to all of the victims of the wildfire. Tessa really did not mean to start the fire. Yet, I thought that the letters came off as too lightweight in emotions. As part of Tessa's sentencing, she also had to do community service and that meant working at a nursing home. It is here that Tessa meets Effby.
The relationship that Effby and Tessa formed was lovely. Effby at first had a no shits attitude but that is because of things in her past. Which do come out in the story and in a way help Tessa with her situation. Overall, I did like this book even if I did not have a strong connection with Tessa.
Naomi writes memoir in addition to young adult fiction. Her personal essays have been published in Mud Season Review, Salon, Full Grown People, and The New Guard, among others. She was the 2018 recipient of an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship. She’s a member of Willamette Writers and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. THE APOLOGY BOX is Naomi's debut novel.
In her non-writing life, Naomi works with under-privileged teens. She worked for years with the Job Corps program and now heads up a non-profit offering community mental health services and a residential treatment program for boys.
She lives on the southern coast of Oregon with her husband, two boys, and two cats.