The premise of this book, as described on the book jacket, is dark: A teenage girl struggles in the aftermath of a tragic accident that changes the life of her best friend. On one hand, I was drawn to it, because my own book-in-progress deals with grief, and I wanted to see how Hoffman handled hers. On the other hand, while my book is about creating a new, relatively happy life, only to discover that the past can’t be left behind, Faithful sounded heavy. I wasn’t sure I could take heavy, what with the presidential election still dragging me down.
But Alice Hoffman is, well, Alice Hoffman, meaning that it is worth the journey even when things along the way are bleak. And bleak they were at times. Increasingly, though, a light shone through, drawing me, breathless, to the very last page. Faithful is a gut-wrenching story with refreshingly honest characters, refreshingly honest dialogue, and a refreshingly honest happy ending.
A final thought. I had mixed feelings about Hoffman’s previous book, The Marriage of Opposites. I felt like a spectator to that one, rather than a participant. I suspect enough people told Hoffman the same thing – too much telling the reader what was happening and not enough letting the reader experience it first-hand through the characters – so that she did an about-face in Faithful. The reader is fully engaged in this one. It’s a story that is entirely in the here and now.
I highly recommend it.