Book Reviews

Being Human Is Hard: Choose Forgiveness: The Power of Connections, Courage, Compassion, and Creativity

Christy Heacock

Pasque Publishing (Jun 23, 2020)

Being Human Is Hard is a healing self-help book that equips people to choose to forgive.

Christy Heacock’s narrative self-book Being Human Is Hard conveys the power and possibility of forgiveness.

Forgiveness, according to the book, is a universal virtue; all world religions extol its goodness. But in everyday life, many people struggle to embrace the idea, let alone practice it. The book introduces thirteen forgiveness heroes—people from a range of religions, backgrounds, and genders—who walked the road of forgiveness. Their stories are inspiring, empowering, and challenging. Each faced high stakes—including oppression in Palestine, systematic racism on an American Indian reservation, and an abusive childhood—and did the difficult inner and outer work of forgiving.

The book uses an approachable, compelling, qualitative research method to glean themes from its narratives. All the stories, the book shows, involve connections, courage, compassion, and creativity on the path to forgiveness. The book showcases the individuality of each story, but it leans into common patterns to equip those hoping to engage in their own forgiveness; for instance, all of the stories involve a role model who helped guide the focal person to forgiveness. The patterns are helpful; this self-help approach is inviting without being dictatorial, and is marked by soul-deep compassion for everyone, hero or otherwise, in the narratives.

Shared with academic detachment, the narratives take center stage, letting each person speak for themselves. This complements the book’s direct, practical teachings for the mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational work that forgiveness involves. It addresses key topics like creating appropriate boundaries and the humility and necessity of self-forgiveness. It helps people embrace learning so that they can build the awareness they need to make choices that honor themselves and others.

As it moves from introducing themes toward explanations of the continual head and heart work involved in forgiveness, this progressive book manages to emphasize its themes throughout. It addresses common misconceptions about forgiveness, both through the stories and struggles of its narrators and through more direct instruction. It shows that true forgiveness doesn’t sacrifice justice and does not ignore or excuse wrongdoing, and advocates for a clear understanding of what happened, without getting trapped in blame. It shows the power of selfhonoring humility, too—a place of courage not controlled by fear, avoidance, or revenge. And it eschews any idea that forgiveness is weak, instead showing it to be a path of deep, life-altering courage.

MELISSA WUSKE (October 26, 2021)


Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Stories and Author Insights Provide a Clear Understanding of How to Forgive

This is an excellent and well-written forgiveness book.  I love the title — because life IS hard and that’s why we need forgiveness — and I love how Christy Heacock weaves this theme through the book.  I love the stories — don’t skip over them.  They don’t just illustrate the author’s points, they add many valuable teachings.  And I love the author’s insights.  I’ve been a forgiveness teacher and coach for over 20 years, which is to say I’ve read many forgiveness books.  Yet, this one is shooting to the top of the short list of books I consider the most valuable.  I will be recommending it to my students, clients and readers.  It not only imparts a clear understanding of what forgiveness is, but also what it takes to achieve forgiveness.

Eileen Barker,


Great Advice for Healing and Making Life Better Through Forgiveness

“We’ve all been victims of some sort of offense by others: bullying, gossip, trolling. Others have been victims of more serious offenses: banishment, torture and worse. The pain generated by those situations is real, and very difficult to heal. What works? In most cases, forgiveness.

And then there’s the other side of the coin. We’ve all done things we aren’t proud of. We’ve caused pain for others as a result, and that’s often brought pain of our own, also hard to heal. Can we forgive ourselves? Dr. Christy Heacock shows us how.

This book is full of examples of those who have forgiven significant insults, from the most heinous of actions to things that may not seem nearly a bad – but they were things that stalled growth, interfered with personal progress and generally made people miserable. But whatever the burden of resentment and anger these people carried, they all found a way to forgive, either the offender or themselves. Their stores are enlightening.

In addition to the examples, there is also much practical advice in this book about how to forgive and the tools needed to get there. We all carry burdens from our past – recent or distant – that could be healed by using the tools Dr. Heacock outlines in this book. I’ll use this book, and I’ll bet you will too.”

-Karen Hall

A Wonderful Roadmap for Any Journey to Forgiveness

“Author Christy Heacock provides a multi-faceted look at the challenge of forgiveness. Her work pairs spiritual and psychological research with the forgiveness stories of a diverse group of people that she calls “forgiveness heroes.” Some of these individuals faced incredible life trauma and found a way to forgive. Others wrestled with less dramatic challenges, but still felt a need to repair relationships and confront negative feelings that diminished their sense of integrity and self-worth.

Much of the power of this book lies in the examples of how people of different backgrounds and life experiences called on different resources to achieve a singular goal of forgiveness. Each reader will find examples they relate to personally and, in reading through all the stories, realize that the value of forgiveness is universal regardless the specific path taken to achieve it.

Throughout the book, the gentle and positive voice of the author is unfailingly encouraging. Dr. Heacock is a steadfast friend and guide for anyone’s journey to forgiveness.”

-Marsha Ahrenkiel

Thank You for Writing This Book

I found Being Human Is Hard: Choose Forgiveness masterfully composed and easy to read. One assumes that reading nonfiction could be a chore. Not this work! I paused after every few chapters to let the heartfelt stories and messages sink in. Here is one of my favorite takeaways from Jacob’s story, “…repressing our fears and true feelings buries them temporarily, but like resilient weeds, they will find a way to surface and grow.” Another favorite observation was, “Forgiveness moves us along the path of being who we are meant to be.”

– Carol Cameron