Alice Hoffman wrote Practical Magic. This is super weird to me because Faithful is nothing like that (I have only seen the movie). She also wrote The Museum of Extraordinary Things, which I tried to read and didn’t finish in 2014. It was too slow. I did read her book of short stories, Blackbird House, in 2013 and enjoyed it.
Anyway, Faithful was very good. I read it with a friend with hopes that we could discuss afterwards. It started out super depressing but then it changed, as people do. Quick summary,
“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… 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.”
If you’re going to read this book, you can forget about the accident before you even start. The friend I was reading with said she was considering not reading it because her friend died in an accident and worried it would be to close to home. First, Helene, the friend she’s in the accident with, doesn’t die. So no trigger warning there and no spoiler alert because you find that out at the beginning. It’s never about Helene. We don’t even meet Helene as a character. It’s all about Shelby and how she moves on with her life and learns to love and be a functioning person in society. We never even find out how the accident happened so if you’re also going into it thinking its going to be some Liane Moriarty nonsense with revealing flashbacks you can drop that idea too. There are no flashbacks or windows into that tragedy. It is literally all about Shelby and how she grows. I loved that. I’m kind of sick of flashbacks and twists and turns. Shelby is such a great character and I felt for her throughout the whole book. Sometimes she was a bit too angsty but she was a teenager at the beginning so there’s bound to be some angst. She grows, moves past it. It was such a compelling story. I finished it in a few days over a holiday weekend. Recommended!