Saturday, August 13, 2016
"Faithful" by Alice Hoffman
Rating: 3/5 stars
This book started slow. I couldn't connect to the main character in the beginning and the plot kind of dragged. The writing style disappointed me, and was going to give it 2 stars or maybe less, but I kept reading and it redeemed itself. About halfway through, I started to care about Shelby and what happened to her. She became dimensional and dynamic because I was beginning to relate to her. The writing style still left something to be desired throughout the whole novel. And I couldn't figure out why the author decided to use third person point of view in the present tense for this kind of novel, unless she was going for an omniscient narrator/onlooker perspective (although there is no narrator character in the book). I think if the book was in first person from Shelby's view, I might have enjoyed it more.
However, the story has some great messages in it. Throughout the book, Shelby is continually reminded that she matters, even when she keeps declaring she's nothing, as if she's trying to convince others of how worthless she believes she is, as if they're crazy for caring about her. But she's eventually persuaded through the love of her mom, best friend and her family, Ben, and eventually James. People believe in her when she doesn't believe in herself, and it brings about a gradual change. She learns to accept herself. She faces setbacks and goes through heartache, but each one teaches her something more and helps her create and define who she is. Contrary to what she believes, she is kind, she does care about others, and she is passionate about life. By the close of the last page, you have the profound sense that everything and everyone passes through your life for a purpose, and nothing is by chance (which fuels hope for the future).
Maybe I couldn't relate to Shelby as much as I had hoped because I haven't lost someone as close to me as a best friend or a parent, nor have I dealt with the guilt that nearly consumes her. But I could relate to her sense of indirection and helplessness, and I think that any woman in her late teens/early 20s will find something in Shelby's story. And any person who has lived through trials and pain will connect with her journey.