In Faithful, teenager Shelby Richmond is driving one winter night with her friend, Helene, when they become involved in a horrific car accident, which leaves Helene in a vegetative state. Unable to forgive herself, Shelby in effect stops living that night, and Faithful is the story of the painstaking process by which she slowly pieces her life together to become whole again. At the same time, this is an Alice Hoffman novel, and the supernatural is at play: miracles begin to be attributed to Helene after the accident, and an angel who appeared to Shelby on the night of the accident remains a presence in her life. That said, the real strength of Hoffman’s writing is her ability to see the magical or mystical in the everyday without those elements becoming the focus of the work. Rather, the supernatural merely enhances the human emotions and actions at play. While an angel seems to oversee Shelby’s life, her recovery is complicated and occurs primarily because of Shelby’s own efforts. This perfect balance of the mystical with gritty realism makes Faithful an incredibly satisfying novel.
(Received in exchange for a copy of book via Netgalley.)