Faithful has an eerie beginning that feels like a ghost story. Each year, the town honors a young girl that was critically injured in a car accident. Her name is Helene and she’s been in a coma since that day, lying in a hospital bed in her childhood bedroom. Some people believe that she can heal the sick and a large group of volunteers always hold vigil in her room and help Helene’s parents care for her.
But there was another girl involved in this accident: Shelby. Shelby walked away with a whole body, but she sunk into her own coma. The young girl who was on her way to NYU won’t leave her parents’ basement or stop smoking pot. It’s like her life has been lost and she’s walking around in a shell of a body.
This novel follows her – at times, she is selfish and unlikeable. At other times, she is a raw nerve who is only trying to navigate her survivor’s guilt. She rescues defenseless animals, defends families just trying to break the cycle of poverty and send their own children to college, and makes amends with those she’s hurt in the past.
Shelby’s selfishness almost made me put this book aside. I was shocked at some of her behaviors and found her to be self-indulgent and unnecessarily hurtful. But I kept reading and am so glad that I did. I began to see more of myself in Shelby – there’s a certain bit of her humanity that kept shining through, even when she was treating others around her like garbage. And I’ll admit – I cried through the entire last half!
It’s been a while since I’ve read any Alice Hoffman. Blackbird House and Turtle Moon are my favorites.
I loved Blackbird House, too. I read it just after I moved to New England and it felt like the perfect introduction to the area 🙂 I haven’t read Turtle Moon yet – I’ll have to add it to my list!