Faithful by Alice Hoffman
Reviewed by: Jennifer Chretien, Reference Librarian
Rating: 4.5 stars
Shelby and Helene are the best of friends. When Helene wants to go to a party, Shelby drives her. By the time the night is over, Helene is in a coma and Shelby is so distraught she winds up in a psychiatric ward convinced the accident is her fault and she needs to be punished.
Shelby finds herself in a liminal state of existence. She holes herself away in her parents’ basement seeking punishment for her sins. She shaved her head, drops out of school, and makes repeated bad decisions while wrestling with survivor’s guilt. Her only socialization is with her pot dealer and her parents. One day, a postcard arrives out of the blue and instructs her to “Do Something”. Over time, more postcards arrive with similar instructions.
These anonymous postcards serve as a lifeline and the only thing that gets through to Shelby. Eventually she moves to New York with her pot dealer boyfriend, gets a job, makes friends, and finds her calling with the help of unloved dogs. Shelby eventually finds the road to redemption and blossoms.
Alice Hoffman is brilliant at writing beautifully flawed characters with stories that break your heart. This latest offering is no different. The reader cheers Shelby on while wanting to strangle her for her poor decisions. If you are looking for a light easy book, this is not the one for you. If you are looking for a book that will capture you from the very beginning and pull you through twists and turns in an emotionally charged form of escapism, well then you will want to read this.