Penitence

By Kristin Koval
Cover of the novel "penitence" by kristin koval, featuring an abstract painting of slender white birch trees set against a vibrant blue background.
Author: Kristin Koval
ISBN: 9781250342997
ON SALE: 02/18/2025

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For readers of Ann Patchett and Celeste Ng, Penitence is a poignant exploration of love and forgiveness. It’s a suspenseful, addictive page-turner filled with literary insight that compels readers to consider whether each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.

When a shocking murder occurs in the home of Angie and David Sheehan, their lives are shattered. Desperate to defend their family, they turn to small-town lawyer Martine Dumont for help, but Martine isn’t just legal counsel—she’s also the mother of Angie’s first love, Julian, a now-successful New York City criminal defense attorney. As Julian and Angie confront their shared past and long-buried guilt from a tragic accident years ago, they must navigate their own culpability and the unresolved feelings between them.

Spanning decades, from the ski slopes of rural Colorado to the streets of post-9/11 New York City and back again, Kristin Koval’s debut novel Penitence is an examination of the complexities of familial loyalty, the journey of redemption, and the profound experience of true forgiveness.

A woman in a brown leather jacket smiling in a sunlit meadow with mountains in the background.
Kristin Koval is a former lawyer who always wanted to be a writer but initially wandered down other paths. While writing Penitence, she completed a twelve-month novel generator class at Catapult Publishing. She’s an alumna of Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Aspen Summer Words, and her short story Inheritance was named a Finalist in the Salamander 2022 Fiction Contest. She attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Georgetown University and Columbia Law School. She lives in Boulder, Colorado and Park City, Utah with her husband, two sons and two great danes.

Praise for Kristin Koval

"Deeply humane, spiky, yearning, heartfelt, rendered in brisk and often stunning prose, Kris Koval's Penitence poses so many rich and complicated questions about where and how guilt lives and grows and festers, what love might feel like and how it might still flourish when we're faced with the worst of who we might be or have been."

Lynn Steger Strong
author of Flight

“Big-hearted, bold, and deftly plotted, Penitence tells a shocking tale of fratricide against the backdrop of two families linked by love, chance, and tragedy. I couldn’t put it down. Kristin Koval emerges as a remarkable new voice in fiction.”

Adrienne Brodeur
bestselling author of Little Monsters and Wild Game

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