Book Review: Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Posted November 1, 2016 by Melissa in Book Review | 29 Comments

Book Review: Faithful by Alice HoffmanTitle: Faithful
Author: Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: November 1st 2016
Target Audience: Adult
Genres: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Length: 272 Pages
Source: Publisher
Format: eARC
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
My Rating:

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.

Quote from Faithful

“People say if you face your worst fear, the rest is easy, but those are people who are afraid of rattlesnakes or enclosed spaces, not of themselves and the horrible things they’ve done.”

My Thoughts

OK, guys…seriously Faithful by Alice Hoffman was one of the hardest books I read all year. This book ripped my heart out and squeezed it the whole time I was reading it (I.E. Regina/Evil Queen style from OUAT)

Don’t let that dissuade you though…because trust me Faithful was so very worth it.

Faithful follows the story of a young girl involved in a horrific car accident and the effect that moment in time has on her, her family, her relationships and the town.

It’s a story of shock and depression, love and support…and taking the hard road to learning the truth about oneself and ones place in the world. And trust me…Shelby does take the hard road. Focused on punishing herself and escaping from all she knows Shelby is incredibly self destructive until she finds a new and unexpected path open up before her.

Love of dogs, love of bookstores, love of friends…all set Shelby on the path to self realization and ultimately redemption and forgiveness. It’s a long circuitous road but as we learn to have faith in Shelby, she eventually learns to have faith in herself.

Some have tagged this work as Magical Realism, and knowing Hoffman there are a few strands of “the impossible” woven throughout, but this is by no means what I would characterize as fitting within that sub-genre.

A tragically beautiful and moving piece of fiction…Faithful once again proves that Alice Hoffman is an expert when it comes to identifying that which makes life so complicated and so messy while managing to tie that to all that is beautiful and fulfilling about being alive.

About Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman was born in New York City on March 16, 1952 and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from high school in 1969, she attended Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, which she attended in 1973 and 74, receiving an MA in creative writing. She currently lives in Boston and New York.

Hoffman’s first novel, PROPERTY OF, was written at the age of twenty-one, while she was studying at Stanford, and published shortly thereafter by Farrar Straus and Giroux. She credits her mentor, professor and writer Albert J. Guerard, and his wife, the writer Maclin Bocock Guerard, for helping her to publish her first short story in the magazine Fiction. Editor Ted Solotaroff then contacted her to ask if she had a novel, at which point she quickly began to write what was to become PROPERTY OF, a section of which was published in Mr. Solotaroff’s magazine, American Review.

Since that remarkable beginning, Alice Hoffman has become one of our most distinguished novelists. She has published over thirty novels, including two books of short fiction, and eight books for children and young adults. Her novel, HERE ON EARTH, an Oprah Book Club choice, was a modern reworking of some of the themes of Emily Bronte’s masterpiece Wuthering Heights. PRACTICAL MAGIC was made into a Warner film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Her novel, AT RISK, which concerns a family dealing with AIDS, can be found on the reading lists of many universities, colleges and secondary schools. Hoffman’s advance from LOCAL GIRLS, a collection of inter-related fictions about love and loss on Long Island, was donated to help create the Hoffman Breast Center at Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA. BLACKBIRD HOUSE is a book of stories centering around an old farm on Cape Cod. Hoffman’s other books include AQUARMARINE and INDIGO, novels for pre-teens, and The New York Times bestsellers THE RIVER KING, BLUE DIARY, THE PROBABLE FUTURE, and THE ICE QUEEN. GREEN ANGEL, a post-apocalyptic fairy tale about loss and love, was published by Scholastic and THE FORETELLING, a book about an Amazon girl in the Bronze Age, was published by Little Brown. Little Brown also published the teen novel INCANTATION, a story about hidden Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, which Publishers Weekly has chosen as one of the best books of the year. In January 2007, SKYLIGHT CONFESSIONS, a novel about one family’s secret history, was released on the 30th anniversary of the publication of Hoffman’s first novel.


Her next novel, FAITHFUL, will be released November 1, 2016.

Hoffman’s work has been published in more than twenty translations and more than one hundred foreign editions. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, Library Journal, and People Magazine. She has also worked as a screenwriter and is the author of the original screenplay “Independence Day,” a film starring Kathleen Quinlan and Diane Weist. Her short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, Self, and other magazines. Her teen novel AQUAMARINE was recently made into a film starring Emma Roberts.


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29 responses to “Book Review: Faithful by Alice Hoffman

  1. This does sound like a very though read, but I am glad it was worth it. And it does sound as if in the later part of the book is gets more uplifting. And after the bad stuff she has been through the good parts are probably even better. Great review!
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