Author: Alice Hoffman
Faithful is a completely character driven novel that draws you in even though the pace is quite slow and a relatively short page count covers quite a large number of years.
Shelby Richmond was a bright young girl with the future in her hands and the world at her feet, until the night an accident left her best friend in a coma and Shelby suffering survivor guilt.
Faithful is Shelby’s story but we still get small insights into what is happening with her best friend Helene. The accident was a tragedy and one that couldn’t be avoided, it wasn’t a case of distraction or drinking, it was simply a tragic accident caused by winter road conditions. It leaves Shelby devastated and in a limbo of her own making; Helene can’t move on and go forward because of her injuries and so neither can Shelby.
Shelby was always a good student and one of the good girls, she didn’t get into any of the things that many 17 year olds do, until after the accident when the shell that used to be Shelby starts to smoke weed and the only person she can actually speak to is her dealer.
In the aftermath of the accident there is another host of traumatic experiences that Shelby suffers and has to come to terms with, it sees her distance herself from the world far enough that she doesn’t have to engage but not so far that she needs clinical help.
Eventually she seeks a fresh start in New York City, a dream she always had. She is running from the home town memories but not quite ready to stand up and reach for her future.
Shelby is such a tortured soul and it is her sense of self and self worth that has taken the biggest hit but it is that which sees her trying to save other lost souls, usually canine. Shelby finds herself collecting animals that need saving.
At a time when Shelby finds it difficult to believe in anything she starts to receive postcards from an unknown source that show her that someone sees her, this guardian angel gives her something to hang onto when she seems lost in the dark.
Almost without even noticing it herself Shelby comes back from the brink, she finds a job, she finds a passion, she finds a friend and she flexes the caring empath that has been lost inside her. Even though she’s still fighting to remain on the outside and not get attached she finds herself in a circle of souls that all depend on one another.
At times I found the story to be very slow going but at all times I was invested in Shelby and where she was heading. My heart broke for her that she suffered such guilt and the effect it had on all of her relationships. She turned so far inside of herself that she couldn’t see what was going on around her, how much she was loved and the hurt her distance was causing.
Faithful is a beautiful story of the hard fought path to the future for someone who was once so lost. This was a story that will stay with you.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Faithful so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below. I will be interested to see what our readers think.