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★★★★★ 5 stars
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 blog about books that made an impression on me. I love middle grade, women’s, scifi and some literary too.