Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.
Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.
Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.
Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.
Most of you guys are probably aware by now that I always judge a book by its cover. Sure, I read the blurb too but the cover is what initially grabs my attention and if it’s pretty or striking, I’m usually going to grab it. I really shouldn’t have judged a book by its cover this time. It totally missed the mark for me.
Things started off strong for me, Shelby is a teenager who was just in a terrible accident that left her best friend, Helene in a coma. She’s understandably devastated and deeply depressed and she winds up in a psychiatric hospital for several months. She shaves her head, barely eats, and when she returns home, she hardly leaves her parents basement and spends most of her time getting high. I really felt for Shelby, she is so broken and she’s a mere shell of herself. I was really looking forward to seeing how she would cope, but unfortunately things didn’t really sit well with me.
I had some issues with this one, the first being that it was so depressing! I get that it deals with some very heavy subject matter and I’m quite fine with that, I’m no stranger to reading dark books. But everything is always awful for Shelby even when it’s really not. Which brings me to my second issue, Shelby is the biggest martyr I’ve ever seen. Even though she does everything in her power to alienate herself from everyone, she still manages to cultivate a few loyal people who love her. So what does she do? She tries her damnedst to destroy these relationships because she’s so full of self loathing and guilt because of the accident. I get it, she’s young and she’s been through a tragedy but this book follows her life for ten years. And she continuously keeps behaving the same exact way. Good things somehow keep happening to her even though she does some pretty crappy things herself and she just chalks it all up to fate, but I chalk it up to some pretty contrived storytelling.
I’m gonna stop here with my ranting because I feel that Hoffman is a talented writer. I just had such a hard time reconciling her beautiful writing with this gratuitous and predictable plot. As much as I wanted to connect with the storyline and Shelby, the only time I felt a true and honest moment with her was towards the end when she had some poignant and lovely scenes with her mother. Overall, this one was a flat disappointment for me. (I shouldn’t complain, I’ve been on a really fantastic streak lately, but I’m honest to a fault in my reviews)
Overall rating: 2/5
Thanks to Simon & Schuster for my review copy.