Author: Alice Hoffman
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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.
Faithful was my first book by Alice Hoffman, and I will definitely be picking up more of her work. There is just something about her writing that is so distinct and compelling.
The beginning of this story was a bit slow for me, and it took a while to get into. But once I did, I couldn't put the book down. The story follows Shelby over the course of about 10 years, starting two years after an accident that changed her life. She's 19 (I think?), lives in her parents' basement, talks to no one, and does nothing (except drugs).
Slowly, we see Shelby start to live her life again, started by her decision to move to the City (NYC) with a boyfriend, get a job, all the other life things, while trying to learn how to move past the guilt that says she doesn't deserve her life after her best friend lost hers.
Honestly, this book was just so real. Navigating your twenties is hard, even without all the extra stuff that Shelby has going on. Even if I can't speak to Shelby's exact struggles, I could empathize. Shelby feels like she self-sabotages everything good in her life, she makes friends and goes through relationships, she rescue approx. 100 dogs, she eats way too much Chinese takeout. I think everyone can relate to Shelby in some way.
While some things were done really well (Ben, her mother, Maravelle's family), I felt other things were not fleshed out well at all (James, school, wtf is up with Helene). But other than a few things, I think the story was written very well. I especially loved the relationships Shelby learns to have, like with her mother and with Maravelle.
Since this book ranges such a long period of time (drastic changes happen in your twenties), I think this book will appeal to a wide range of people. I think this could even crossover into YA, as Shelby basically is a young adult when the story starts out. Overall, I thought this was a deep, complex, compelling book, and I really enjoyed it.
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