Fiction, Loved-it, NetGalley, Women's

Faithful by Alice Hoffman Or my magical read of New Year's Night

I’m finally going to review Faithful by Alice Hoffman. Originally, this was the first book I read this year. But I was having one of those “book too good to write review” things again. And now I’ve reviewed Throwing My Life Away, but still haven’t reviewed Faithful. Tut tut, Evelina.

Actually, this was the book I read DURING the New Year. Yep, you heard me right – started it like around 10PM on New Year’s Eve, gave it a brief pause to drink champagne with boyfriend and watch all the crazy fireworks in the neighborhood (45 minutes, people go crazy with them here), and then kept reading the book till like 3, when I couldn’t keep my much too sober eyes open anymore. Finished it up the next morning.

So that should tell you quite a lot about how I felt about this book. Particularly about how I felt about putting it down.


Let’s first give you an idea of what the book is about then, shall we. Shelby Richmon is an ordinary girl, I would say maybe not even so ordinary – her best friend is very beautiful and popular. But one night something terrible happens – the two girls suffer a car crash which Shelby survives barely scratched, while her best friend Helene ends up in a coma with permanent brain damage. After this, Shelby is thrown into the deepest depression and won’t stop blaming herself for years, as well as destroying herself and letting others do it for her. We follow Shelby through her story of maturing, something like 5 or 10 years (I couldn’t tell) of her starting out as a complete mess and learning to live life anew. It is a touching account, filled with learning what love is, what one truly wants and how to forgive oneself for things unimaginable.

The aspect I liked the most about this book was how honest it was. So sad, aching and deep – and so sincere. It’s hard to be honest in these things. It’s hard not to overdramatize. And yet, it was done so well! Couldn’t help wondering if the writer had seen her own share of sorrow in her life. Only one who has suffered can really portray pain, depression and self-hatred so well. The part I thought was done the best was how Shelby refused to see that she was actually a kind, good person, that she was worth something. The inability to forgive oneself and see oneself worthy of anything is, I would say, the main point of the book.

It’s a painful path that we see our main character walk. But it’s one you can deeply empathise, or even connect with. You’ll keep turning it over and over in your head, whether Shelby’s choices were right or wrong, right considering the circumstances, or the only ones she could have taken anyway. And in the end, it’s so satisfying, because you can see clearly the whole path she walked and where it brought her. It’s a very good ending. Not because something exceptionally good happens, but because there’s release from the past, from the pain. There’s redemption.

It was a magical, wonderful, emotional and very well written journey into a young girl’s life. Troubled and raw, which you are going to love every minute of. I truly recommend this book, it was a great one to start my reading year with, and it might be my best read this year. I am deeply grateful to the writer and the publishers to have allowed me an early read of this gem, even if it took me so long to catch up to it in my schedule.

I thank Alice Hoffman and Simon & Schuster for giving me a copy of this book in exchange to my honest review.

Have you heard of this book, wished it or maybe even read it? Share with me! (Also, if you figured out why it’s called Faithful cause I couldn’t quite work it out, the silliness of me. #embarrassinghuh)

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

11 thoughts on “Faithful by Alice Hoffman Or my magical read of New Year's Night

  1. I am a huge Alice Hoffman fan so I understand the magic of her words, even if I haven’t read this book. You should go back and read her other books since you loved this one. I love everything she writes!

    1. Hi Tammy, thanks for dropping by 🙂 I’ve actually never read Alice Hoffman before! I never knew what I was missing. I am going to read more of her books, that’s for sure. I already have the Red Garden 🙂

  2. In response to the title Faithful, I think it references those notes the ‘person’ left her (trying not to give any spoilers, but you know who I’m talking about!). So the person faithfully left her those letters, and often they would only have 1 word on them, as suggestions to keep her spirits up. I think Faithful is the final word on the last letter.

    And not many people have been faithful in Shelby’s life–her best friend, her dad, her boyfriend (whether they mean to be unfaithful or not). But then she finds people who are faithful–the friend with the children, the dogs, a certain ‘person.’ And these help form the groundwork of her recovery.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it! I was surprised by how much I liked it. I typically only read books with speculative elements.

    1. Woah, that’s a really good way of looking at it! I never thought about it from the side of a secondary character. Thanks for telling me.

      Yeah, I was also surprised how much I loved it. Especially because I it didn’t sound so deep from the blurb. It’s been a long time since I’ve last come across a book like that.

    1. Hi! Yeah, it’s a very satisfying read, even though it’s not a very easy one emotionally. I’m looking forward to reading some other stuff by this author, as this was my first book of hers, actually 🙂

    1. Oh yeah, it’s totally worth it! I will admit that I only requested the ARC because of the glorious cover >_> thankfully, it was just as good! Lucky.

  3. I have never read any of Alice Hoffman’s works. Actually, I only learned about her this year by reading other Faithful reviews. The reviews I’ve read are all across the board, too! I appreciate how much you respect Hoffman’s writing and the plight of Shelby. It sounds like you could really empathize with the story! Have you read anything else by Hoffman? If so, what did you think?

    1. Yeah, it seems I share a lot of with Shelby. And I can certainly empathise with her feeling like she’s not all that people think she is. But you’d have to read the book to know what I mean 🙂
      In fact, this was my first book of hers, and I wasn’t aware of this author before. I already have her Red Garden though, going to see how that one reads 🙂 it might be a new favorite author because I can just really connect with her style it seems. But I need to read more before I can say more 🙂

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