Today, Hartford Books Examiner reviews Can’t Forgive: My 20-Year Battle with O.J. Simpson (BenBella Books, $18.99) by Kim Goldman.
Published last month in a digital format, Can’t Forgive is a particularly poignant release, given that June 12th marked the passage of twenty-years since Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown were murdered. The book represents Goldman’s first solely credited literary effort; she and her family collaborated on His Name is Ron: Our Search for Justice (1997) and she also contributed to the controversial If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer (2007). Since the criminal and civil trials of O.J. Simpson, Ms. Goldman has become an accomplished writer, frequent media guest, and philanthropist. She also co-founded the Ron Goldman Foundation for Justice, currently serves as the Executive Director of the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Project, and remains a passionate and tireless victims’ advocate.
Can’t Forgive is not a retread of the criminal and civil litigations that polarized a nation. Rather, it is one woman’s story of overcoming a loss so profound that it could have crippled her. Known to the world as “Ron’s sister” or “Fred’s daughter,” Kim Goldman struggled to find her own identity—even as the man she believes to have murdered her brother made a mockery of the justice system, leaving her family in a prolonged state of vulnerability while the eyes of the world watched. Though referred to as the “conscience of the trial,” she felt an understandable sense of bitterness and rage. So much so that only the thought of her father kept her from taking down Simpson when he unknowingly sauntered in front of her car in a deserted parking garage.
As the title suggests, Ms. Goldman has not forgiven Simpson, and she bristles at the notion of closure. Her intimate account of a childhood interrupted by divorce provides readers with some idea of their unique sibling bond (and their shared fondness for their father, who regularly fulfilled both parental roles), which was interrupted on the night that an act of selflessness cost Ron Goldman his life. Perhaps that helps to explain—not that it needs explaining—why the Goldmans have been so dogged in their pursuit of accountability (and not money, as some detractors have stated). Some of her revelations are surprising (she initiated a one-sided correspondence with Simpson in the hopes of visiting him in jail), and some surprisingly humorous (she sent him a greeting card welcoming his to his new digs—a prison cell in Nevada), but all contribute to the portrait of a woman who walked through hell without losing her fighting spirit.
In addition to candidly discussing her struggles to move beyond her family’s tragedy, Ms. Goldman reveals personal anecdotes about her adult life outside the public eye, and the lessons learned, that will resonate deeply with readers who are endeavoring to find their own way. She shares the details of her marriage and divorce, the joys and sorrows of parenthood, the values of friendship, the complications of dating, and the contentment that comes with finding purposeful work. Though these are all things that have been complicated by her loss, they are also issues that are universally relevant. And while Goldman’s conversational style occasionally lacks polish, but that hardly diminishes the power of her message.
Though Can’t Forgive pays loving tribute to her brother, it’s ultimately Kim Goldman’s story of self-discovery—and she tells it with heart, humor, and the wisdom that comes with age. The book also serves as a reminder that grief is an intensely personal emotion, no matter how public the circumstances of the loss, and that each person is entitled to choose their own recourse. For those who argue that closure and forgiveness are necessary steps in recovery, Ms. Goldman stands as a testament to the fact that disallowing either (or both) does not arbitrarily limit a person’s potential to move forward, turning tragedy into some kind of triumph …