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Not to be Forgiven

Ebook – September, 2013

Ebook | $7.99 Paperback | $17.95

Immersed in World War II propaganda, a 10-year-old Nebraskan child, Sis, is convinced all Germans are monsters. Her brother, Danny, is fighting Germans in North Africa. Then she meets Horst, an inmate in a near-by Prisoner of War Camp. He’s friendly, funny, and helps her save an injured magpie. She trusts him with her fears, but, shaken by ambivalence, tells no one about the relationship.

As events transpire, Sis ponders: Is Horst friend or foe? She can’t be sure. Then Danny comes home a shattered stranger, his diary filled with Nazi atrocities. Forcibly reminded all Germans are foes, she betrays Horst’s friendship to intransigent Nazis in the POW camp because she hears they punish American sympathizers. What she doesn’t know is that the evil of Hitler’s gestapo reaches all the way into these camps.

Sis learns what they did to Horst from a nurse who works in the POW infirmary; the result of torture, it leaves the kind German maimed for life. She is devastated. Decades later, Sis still grieves the unthinkable damage they did him and, as she sees Swastika earrings on a child, she remembers how their friendship was twisted by the malignant power of hatred. She prays for forgiveness for herself and asks mercy for a world again awash in hate.


Title: Not to be Forgiven
Author: Nancy Mayborn Peterson
ISBN – Trade Paperback: 978-1-936449-38-5
ISBN – eBook: 978-1-936449-39-2
BISAC: Fiction : Historical – General, Fiction : War & Military, Fiction : Cultural Heritage
LOCCN: 2013930818
Pages: 256
Price: Trade Paperback – $17.95. E-Book – $7.99
Trim: 6×9
Publication date: September, 2013

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Editorial Review

Awards and Reviews: Not to be Forgiven

“This book…totally draws the reader into a world of wartime America….This is a book that lingers after you’ve read it.”

New Mexico South West Writers’ Group : Not to be Forgiven placed First in 2014 Adult Mainstream Fiction- Colorado Authors’ League


“Not to be Forgiven explores the explosive emotions that ripped through the home front as World War II raged on and on. With the sure-handed strokes of a master writer, Peterson tells of friendship marred by hatred and fear, and of the way in which love and understanding can finally redeem the past. A magical and mesmerizing story.”

Margaret Coel, author of Buffalo Bill's Dead Now, a Wind River Mystery


Not to be Forgiven is a haunting novel about how the war twists the life of a young girl living thousands of miles from World War II battlefields. Both historian and storyteller, Nancy M. Peterson, whose nonfiction books on the West are classics, writes how a wartime friendship flares into hatred, leaving scars that cause a lifetime of regret. Set against a background of wartime rural America, Not to be Forgiven is not to be forgotten.”

Sandra Dallas, author of True Sisters and The Quilt Walk



“Not to be Forgiven by Nancy Mayborn Peterson is an amazing book. Written in the innocent voice of a young girl it tells the story of the Greggory family in Nebraska during the years of WWII.  This is a beautifully written and heart- warming story of a girl growing up, coming into her own and learning important life lessons To me it is an amazing achievement in combining world history with a very personal moral tale that really moved me. A wonderful book that I cannot recommend enough.”

Christopher Fisher of Goodreads


Not to be Forgiven

“The heroine, Mary Kathleen Greggory, a young impressionable child, lives in… Hiram’s Spring, Nebraska, an ‘our town.’  The relationships and dynamics of the presence of German Prisoners of War in the community are well addressed in the story.

Mary Kathleen’s idol is her brother, Danny, who serves in the U.S. Army overseas. He is fighting men like those who will be working on their farms .Sis’ takes a vicarious journey through the evils of war with her beloved brother….

Underneath the patriotism and fear lies prejudice and cover-ups that only now in this decade have been known…. So we come to the title of our story, Not to be Forgiven. What is forgiveness?... Nancy Mayborn Peterson asks deep, philosophical questions in her novel, Not to be Forgiven. God only knows if we can answer truthfully.”

 Ariel Smart Pen Woman magazine; Spring 2014


Not to be Forgiven

“Some actions have forever consequences….When MK lashes out in anger at an innocent German POW who has befriended her, the revelation of their friendship results in tragic consequences….a good lesson in history and how hasty decisions affect others…a good read for the ‘tween group, too. “         

 Sandy Whiting, ROUNDUP MAGAZINE, June 2014


5.0 out of 5 stars  Finalist in Indie Book Awards -- Well deserved!, June 24, 2014

By Beeny Elno "Beeny" (Colorado)

This review is from: Not to Be Forgiven (Paperback)

A real page-turner with significant historical detail, M.K. Greggory a/k/a Sis tells the story of how a child experienced World War II in the heartland of America. To this small town arrives an air base and a POW facility for captured Nazi prisoners, who then provide needed work on the surrounding farms while residents are cooperating with the couponing and giving metals and other products to the war effort. No one is immune to the war. Prisoners are both human and nonhuman -- and the same is true for town residents.

M.K.'s father runs the town's newspaper, and her mother is a reporter. The deaths of young men from all the surrounding communities have to be reported, and families have to be constantly prepared for loss. M.K./s brother is sent to war. Through his letters to the family, we can see some of his experiences, and through M.K.'s eyes, we see the effects of propaganda on the town residents. His absence continues suspense -- will he make it home again, and if so, in what condition?

M.K.'s heart opens and closes, and by the end, we fully understand what "not to be forgiven" means.

I had just read The Book Thief, and I must say that Not to Be Forgiven compares well -- parallel tales of the same war on different continents . . . I highly recommend Peterson's novel.


5.0 out of 5 stars  Profoundly honest, compelling story of patriotism, June 8, 2014

By Jody Glittenberg Hinrichs, PhD

This review is from: Not To Be Forgiven (Kindle Edition)

Peterson writes an honest, compelling story that underscores the patriotism of a whole country during WWII. Not only were the soldiers who fought the "greatest generation" but also were just ordinary people in Nebraska. The novel graphically points out that flames of fear bring painful discrimination to innocent people scapegoated and shunned, like Japanese Americans and German Americans. Few writers have written about the daily sacrifices made through rationing, buying bonds with dimes and "gray" pennies, and saving tin cans and scrap metal. Peterson etches theses simple acts as vital to winning the war. Through the voice of a young girl Peterson, in poetic prose, shows how the stark, jolting emotions of real warriors' pains and wounds conflict with her growing awareness of the need to forgive some prisoners of war. How different this story is from citizen involvement now found in wars fought with a volunteer military and visible drones.


5.0 out of 5 stars  Not to Be Forgotten, January 5, 2014

By Amazon Customer (Colorado, USA)

This review is from: Not to Be Forgiven (Paperback)

World War II may seem like ancient history to those born more recently, but readers of all ages quickly see the constancy of human emotions in any conflict through this novel. Feelings, filtered by the eyes of a young girl, Sis, as her brother joins the armed forces and fights in Africa and England, need targets; and Sis’s are strongly directed toward the enemies of the US. She’s willing to endure hardships and throws herself with enthusiasm into home front activities as well as play that helps her deal with the war. But when the reality of the impacts on other humans impinges, whether a friendly German prisoner of war or an American-born Japanese family, an endangered brother or her father’s newspaper, she learns how far-reaching war really is. The book reads like an honest memoir, although it’s fiction, and clearly is based on the author’s reminiscences and experiences, supplemented by research. It’s been decades since Americans have been personally affected by armed conflicts, and despite people’s enthusiastic messages of support, donations to nonprofits, and public touting of the “sacrifices” of soldiers, we have no discomfort, no personal losses or deficiencies comparable to those experienced by Americans during WW II. Peterson enables us to be part of these with a personalized writing style that reaches the child in each of us. She shows us that the victims of war are not just soldiers but the men, women, and children trying, hoping, oftentimes desperately, that they and their families will survive.


 5.0 out of 5 stars  Beautiful insight into the inherent moral ambiguity of war, January 4, 2014

By Kindle Customer

This review is from: Not to Be Forgiven (Paperback)

Nancy Peterson has done a fabulous job of not only capturing the impact of World War II on a small town in Nebraska, but also has captured the inherent moral ambiguity of war. Sis, the novel's protagonist, is about 11 years old as the war happens to her. Her brother, Daniel, leaves for the army, and her parents work for and run the local newspaper. Sis's child-like innocence and observations and considerations of war are what really brought the book to life for me; she listens to her parents discuss the ramifications of publishing various stories in the town newspapers and wonders at times if Nazis are taught to hate Americans in the same way that Americans are taught to hate them. A particularly poignant scene is Sis's consideration of the fact that her beloved brother is a war hero in her world but to Nazi's, he is likely a barbaric murderer. This duality is compounded by her simultaneous guilt for and excitement about her unlikely friendship with a German POW.

Two themes in the novel were particularly meaningful to me. One theme is that of a burgeoning women's liberation movement-a movement expertly woven throughout the novel via Sis's mother's struggle to gain respect from her father. Another theme is that of coming of age; Sis's experiences with war wipe away her innocence, and much like the trees that she observes losing their branches due to the oppressive weight of snow, her character is transformed by the novel's surprising conclusion.


 5.0 out of 5 stars  I was moved by this story, December 30, 2013


This review is from: Not To Be Forgiven (Kindle Edition)

This story touched me in a number of ways; I had to keep reading to find out how the story ended. Well worth my time because it made me think about the effects of war. I was motivated to learn more about the prisoner of war and internment camps in the U.S.


5.0 out of 5 stars  Great description, narrative and research made for an engaging story, September 9, 2013

By Pat K.

This review is from: Not To Be Forgiven (Kindle Edition)

Nancy Peterson beautifully portrays the emotions and actions of her characters. Sis, in particular, comes alive on the pages of this book. Her devotion and concern for her brother Danny, and her sorrow at having harmed her friend Horst are palpable.

I too, was a young girl during the war. For me, Peterson, through meticulous research, and engaging narrative, brought back many memories of that pivotal time in our nation's history.


5.0 out of 5 stars  Not to Be Forgiven, September 4, 2013

By Melodye Bush

This review is from: Not to Be Forgiven (Paperback)

Before reading this wonderful book, I had few ideas about the impact of World War II on the lives of Americans. Not just the soldier but his family, him town, and his neighbors. I had heard about some of the rationing but needed to think a second time about the extent of the sacrifices. Across the country, across the classes and the colors Americans sacrificed and pulled together in the many efforts. In this well-researched and well-written book I learned more about the impact on all Americans. And I learned about the sacrifice to many of what we believed to be the enemy. My mind and my heart were deeply touched and Nancy Peterson's novel will not be forgotten.


 5.0 out of 5 stars  A Well-Written Page Turner!!!, August 22, 2013

By Laurel Jean Becker

This review is from: Not to Be Forgiven (Paperback)

It is rare when I pick up a book and it holds my attention until I read the last page, but that was exactly my experience reading Nancy Mayborn Peterson's book, Not to be Forgiven. It is a well-written novel with a surprise, emotional ending. Through Ms. Peterson's thorough historical research, I learned much about what Middle America was like in the 1940's, what people experienced, and how those experiences shaped a generation. One of the best books I've read in quite some time.


5.0 out of 5 stars  can't wait to finish this book!, August 5, 2013

By Karen Sumner

This review is from: Not to Be Forgiven (Paperback)

I started this book a few days ago and am about 1/3 the way through. Can't wait to finish it! It's also very interesting learning about this time in our country's history.


5.0 out of 5 stars  Makes history come alive!, August 4, 2013

By CCole

This review is from: Not to Be Forgiven (Paperback)

"Not to be Forgiven" by Nancy Peterson is a poignant tale of the Greggory family told from the viewpoint of Sis, a young girl in Nebraska during WWII. It was interesting to learn that there was a German POW camp in that area, a fact of which I was unaware. Nancy Peterson brings history alive and makes it personal. I have recommended this book to family and friends and hope there are more to come.


5.0 out of 5 stars  Wonderful, July 3, 2013

By ChristophFischerBooks "Chris" (TOP 500 REVIEWER)

This review is from: Not To Be Forgiven (Kindle Edition)

"Not To Be Forgiven" by Nancy Mayborn Peterson is an amazing book. Written in the innocent voice of young girl it tells the story of the Greggory family in Nebraska during the years of WWII.

Nostalgic descriptions of a magic childhood spent with her older brother Danny are being overshadowed by the gradual encroaching of the war to their protected countryside. An air base being set up in their vicinity, the evacuation of Japanese 'aliens', the growing hate towards Germans and Japanese in the country and the draft of Danny into the war are bringing the war closer to her life than what this reader could have imagined from a European view point.

Using the perspective of a young girl enables the author to make a lot of important points, which 'we grown ups' often tend to forget. Children's naivety can put a magnifying glass on subjects such as hatred and intolerance.

This is a beautifully written and heart warming story of a girl growing up, coming into her own and learning important life lessons. To me it is an amazing achievement in combining world history with a very personal moral tale that really moved me.

A wonderful book that I cannot recommend enough.


5.0 out of 5 stars  WONDERFUL!, June 20, 2013

By Kbabb

This review is from: Not to Be Forgiven (Paperback)

Nancy Peterson's "Not to Be Forgiven" is an amazing book! From the first page, her wonderful writing style drew me in, and I truly cared about Sis, the narrator of the story. Sis's perspective on how a small town and a small family lived through World War II, with a German POW camp on the edge and dozens of home-town boys on the front, rang true emotionally and spiritually. This girl's struggles with love, fear, loyalty and ultimately, forgiveness, is a must-read.


 5.0 out of 5 stars  A Must Read, April 16, 2013

By conimike

This review is from: Not to Be Forgiven (Paperback)

The story was well presented, flowed with ease with an ending that really grabbed the emotions. It brought tears to both my partner and I. We could not put it down until we had finished. Well done


About the Author


Nancy Peterson has been an award-winning writer for over 40 years. She has authored four books of Western history set during the frontier era; then she turned to the novel as a way to let her readers experience another traumatic time in our country’s history.

Nancy remembers vividly how life changed when Pearl Harbor plunged the nation into World War II. Combining interviews and research with personal knowledge, she has recreated the early years of that struggle, when the United States was on the edge of losing to the Axis powers. Not to be Forgiven, A Novel, relates how the war impacted Hiram's Spring, Nebraska, and forever scarred the lives of Sis Greggory, her soldier-brother, Danny, and Horst, a German prisoner of war.

The book was named the Best Mainstream Adult Novel of 2014 by the Colorado Authors’ League and also won a Finalist Award in the nation-wide  2014 Indie Next Generation Book Awards for Best First Novel.

Nancy Mayborn Peterson grew up in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. She is the author of People of the Moonshell, an award-winning Platte River history; People of the Troubled Water and People of the Old Missury, a two-volume history of the Missouri River; and Walking in Two Worlds, Mixed-Blood Indian Women Seeking Their Path. Nancy now lives in Centennial, Colorado.  Please see