By: Alice Hoffman
Published Year: 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion.
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): 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.
The cover is beautiful! This book first caught my eye on a list of books to keep your eye out for in 2016. Definitely a judge a book by a cover moment. The summary was intriguing so when I was offered a chance to review this book I took it!
What I thought
I’m a bit speechless when it comes to what I thought of this book and maybe not in a good way?
At 17, Shelby got into a tragic car accident which caused her best friend to be in a coma and then practically braindead for years. Shelby got out of the accident physically unscathed but a completely broken person emotionally. Faithful picks up 2 years after the accident and follows Shelby over the next 10 years or so of her life.
I enjoyed the beginning of the book that showed how Shelby was dealing with her survivor’s guilt. I did not like the next portion where she moved out of her home town and was basically just getting by trying to figure out who she was. I then enjoyed the book again after that section of her life where she started to find who she was and who she wanted to be and come to terms with what happened. However, it was an extremely hard timeline to follow because there were times when I felt like years had passed but apparently it had only been a few months.
One of the biggest issues I had with this story was Helene, her friend who was in the accident with her. For some reason Hoffman decided to keep her alive instead of just having her die in the accident. Helene is then kept in her childhood bedroom as a vegetable. To make things worse, it somehow becomes believed that she can perform miracles which cause a constant parade of strangers through their home to see her. What??? I mean, really? This has no impact on the story that her death would not have been able to accomplish. The only reason I could see to keeping her alive is to have Helene’s body physically taunting Shelby.
For the most part I enjoyed watching Shelby’s progression from a broken 19 year old to a not quite as broken 29 year old. I wish we had gotten to see more of her as whole and happy, but maybe that’s not reality? It was hard to read about her not valuing herself, but I think that her journey could be beneficial to some readers.
I also am so torn about the relationships that she has. I understand some of them but the final one then just seemed so unrealistic. I don’t want to say much because it would ruin it, but how they meet and who the guy ends up being just made me sigh and roll my eyes. For a book that felt like it was trying to be realistic, this moment absolutely wasn’t and it annoyed me.
By: Alice Hoffman