Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors. She’s the one who brought us Practical Magic, which delights my soul in both book and movie form. Her latest, Faithful, is equally satisfying.
High school students Shelby Richmond and her best friend Helene were in a terrible car accident. Shelby was driving and almost died, Helene was injured so badly she remains in that twilight area between life and death where so many find themselves. Confined permanently to her bed and machines, Helene becomes something of a celebrity in their town because she was the beautiful, popular girl who is now in a coma and the tragedy of it all attracts exactly the kind of attention that tragedy always attracts in our society. Shelby meanwhile is paralyzed by guilt and depression and suffers through her own physical injuries, followed by emotional breakdown, mental hospital confinement, rescue by her mother and self-imposed isolation at home.
The book takes us through the story of Shelby’s return to life. It is a long, convoluted path that involves boys from high school, love, dogs (the best people and saviors of many), work, education, heart-break and happiness, mysterious postcards designed to keep her from the edge and the guardian angel who sends them to her.
This is a great book for anyone who has experienced overwhelming tragedy and/or mental illness of any kind. Shelby is a survivor even though she doesn’t really know it. She shows the reader that you can come back from just about anything and create a life that while different from what you expect, can be better than what you dreamed it would ever be again. It is possible to come to terms with your life.
As usual with Alice Hoffman, the writing is clean and flows well. She writes at a high, lyrical level and it’s dense with feeling and subtlety, but she does it with such skill that it’s a very easy read. I was on a five-hour flight from Seattle to Fairbanks AK and read the entire thing on the plane.
If you’re looking for a good book to keep you company on these chilly winter days, this one might be a good choice.
Have a wonderful week, read a good book, and be kind to people. We need that now more than ever. Be the change you want to see in the world, and make it positive. 😊