Alice Hoffman (2016)
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.
What I Liked
- Maravelle’s twin sons Dorian and Teddy, specifically Dorian.
- I thought he was so sweet, and truthfully, they seemed like the most believably developed characters in the story. What I mean by that is, a number of years are covered throughout the book, and in terms of personal development, the twins seem the most believable.
- All the dogs!
- I love a good dog rescue, especially when they deserve a good home.
- Shelby’s mom
- She was a really great mom. She did everything she possibly could for her daughter, at great personal sacrifice.
- The Long Island references
- Everyone likes reading about places they recognize, right?
- Some people are just given a bad hand. He is one of the most likable characters after Shelby’s mom.
What I Disliked
- Surprisingly, the writing style!
- I have heard so many amazing things about Alice Hoffman, and IDK if it was the hype or what but her writing seemed a bit childish. She repeated things a few times, and I had a hard time getting into the story for a while
- Slow pacing, at the beginning
- Again, I had a hard time getting into the story at first. A few years ago, I would have actually ended up DNFing this because of that fact but I wanted to like Alice Hoffman so much that I pushed through, and I am actually really happy I did.
- Blasphemy! You can’t dislike the main character! Oh but you can, and still enjoy the story I might add! I cannot begin to fathom what it must feel like to have to live with survivor’s guilt, but at times I felt like Shelby was inconsistent in her personal development. I mean she had a lot of good in her life post-accident, and yet, in the company of people who CLEARLY cared about her, she still demanded that she was a “nothing” and had “no one.” I think that bothered me the most because it reminds me of myself, and I don’t like to think about that…
- SPOILER: I would have been content with him completely moving on, and an ending with him in a happy marriage. I don’t think it was necessary to have him come groveling back to Shelby, especially after everything. He deserved to find his happiness with someone who appreciated him.
- So much focus on being bald
- Two of my coworkers were actually discussing this book the other day (before I had the chance to open it) and the one said that she was reading it with her friend, but her friend stopped because of how much negative focus was on the fact that Shelby was bald. My coworker’s friend was bald all through high school and college (due to chemo treatments) and she didn’t think that Hoffman was very sensitive to the fact that hair can especially be a huge trigger for some people. Naturally, after hearing my two coworkers discuss this, I was very much aware of every single time it was mentioned, and it did feel somewhat insensitive.
I was a little confused at first about the fate of Helene. Shelby, when she talked about her, made it seem like Helene had actually died in the car accident. However, throughout the book people are visiting her, and think that she has healing powers.. I guess that the accident ultimately left her brain dead, and her parents paid (for over ten years) to have an oxygen machine in her childhood bedroom? That part was I think the most confusing but once I kind of came around to the idea that she was on life support, and that maybe her parents just never took her off it, that it made a little more sense.
I know that is a lot of dislike, especially considering that it took a while to get into, but I did enjoy this book. Once it finally got moving, it was a fast paced, and you do end up liking the majority of the characters. I probably would recommend it to other people, though it does give me pause about picking up Rules of Magic (by Alice Hoffman), which I have been looking forward to since last November…
What did you guys think of this Alice Hoffman book? Do you like her writing style? Let’s chat in the comments!
Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen (eARC)