By: Alice Hoffman
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of Simon & Schuster CA through Netgalley
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.
I’ve been curious about this book since I first heard about it from Simon & Schuster CA earlier this year. I’ve read two of Alice Hoffman’s books to date (see author tag), both of which I’ve enjoyed, but something at the back of my head told me that this book was going to be something different. I was approved an eARC of this novel by the publishers in exchange for an honest review. This book will be available on 01 November 2016.
From the first chapter I knew I was reading something fascinating and that I thought would enjoy. By the final third of the book, I realised how much I loved the book, something I wasn’t entirely anticipating. Firstly, it’s a beautifully written book, with lots of great quotes and really just capturing the headspace that Shelby is in, the atmosphere of the novel, that sense of soul-searching. I haven’t read enough from Alice Hoffman to say if this is distinctly her style, but I enjoy her storytelling nonetheless.
But what makes this book really compelling is Shelby herself. She can be frustrating, but it’s a good sort of frustrating in that she’s a complex person, well-rounded with her strengths and her flaws. The portrayal of guilt in this novel is realistic with the way that knowledge totally skews self-perception and affect the way you interact with the outside world and your own thoughts and everything you’ve ever known. She doesn’t feel she deserves anything after the accident, she pushes the people who care about her away, she completely screws up the good things going in her life, and it sucks but you see where she’s coming from and why she feels that way. It’s sad to see how life seems to slip by Shelby early on as she’s wrapped up in these feelings of guilt and misery and darkness but throughout the novel you also see the beauty in how she slowly repairs her life through the people she comes across, the mistakes she makes, the small acts that she initially thinks nothing of but then comes to affect her in such profound ways. She survives, she overcomes, she grows up. It’s wonderful in that sense that, despite of the sad stuff that also happens along the way, there’s that sense of hope.
I don’t know what else to say about Faithful except that it was a compelling and wonderful read and I would say one of the best books I’ve read this year. I cannot recommend it enough! 🙂 (And now I really need to go back and read some of her earlier novels as I wait for her next novel; I’ve put it off for far too long 😛 )