Review: Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Faithful book cover

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

Alice Hoffman’s “trademark alchemy” (USA TODAY) and her ability to write about the “delicate balance between the everyday world and the extraordinary” (WBUR) make this an unforgettable story. With beautifully crafted prose, Alice Hoffman spins hope from heartbreak in this profoundly moving novel.

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and Simon & Schuster.

Shelby’s hopes and dreams for the future came to a screeching halt the night of the accident that left her best friend, Helene, in a vegetative state. Seventeen-year-old Shelby went from anticipating her high school graduation and making plans for college to being an emotional wreck crippled with guilt. A suicide attempt ends with Shelby being committed to a mental institution, where she is abused rather than helped. Once out, Shelby resorts to drugs as a way of coping, her only friend a former classmate who is now her dealer. She’s unwilling to move past what happened… but life moves on, whether you want it to or not.

I felt a lot of sympathy for Shelby, but her defeatist attitude became tiresome after a while. I understand how debilitating depression can be, but… it was too much after a while. And frankly—given Shelby’s memories of Helene—I don’t understand why she was so determined to bring her life to a grinding halt, because Helene didn’t seem to be a very good friend to her.

Despite a few annoyances, it was still a pretty decent read, and kept my attention. I’m going to stick with the three star rating. I was tempted to lower it, but I think a three star rating is fair.


Author: Alice Hoffman

Title: Faithful

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Published: November 1st 2016 by Simon & Schuster

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐