Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Faith by Jennifer Haigh

Faith is the story of Father Art as told by his half-sister Sheila.  Father Art has been accused of molesting a child in his church, and Sheila returns to her hometown to defend him.  However, she learns that her family is hiding some secrets, long buried, that may impact her own interpretation of the events and her brother's innocence or guilt.

Beautiful.  This was literary fiction at its best for me - beautiful writing that is accessible and engrossing at the same time.  This isn't one that you'll struggle to get through, but it's also not one that sacrifices characterization or depth for the sake of plot.  You spend the majority of the story not knowing if Father Art is guilty or innocent, but that isn't the major focus of the book.  You get inside the characters heads through Sheila, although at the beginning she admits that she is reconstructing events the way she imagines they occurred in some cases.  I liked not having an omniscient narrator and only knowing what Sheila knows and filling in the blanks as she fills them in.  I cared deeply about each character and was fascinated to see the ways they dealt with the issue guilt and belief in the face of this enormous test of faith.

Entertainment Value
Completely engrossing.  I couldn't put it down.  It's not an easy read, but it's also not so difficult that you feel like it's dragging.  I read it over the course of two days because I couldn't put it down.  The issue of whether or not Father Art is guilty is intriguing, but I was more interested in the development of the characters and how each character's own faith was highlighted and tested throughout the book. 

This was my first five star book of the year.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read it because I was starting to worry that I was in a slump.  I've had trouble concentrating on the books I've read so far this year, but this was the exception.  I was into the story and the characters through the entire book and couldn't get enough.  I highly recommend this to all readers, even if you aren't typically interested in literary fiction.  This is a good one to start with if you don't usually read in the genre because it does have an intriguing plot.  I also loved that the author addressed the issue of religious faith from multiple points of view without expressing her own biases.  I doubt it would ever happen because of the language used in the book (several uses of the "f word") but I'd love to see this book sold in Christian bookstores. 

Thank you to Trish at TLC for including me on the tour.  Click here to see a list of other reviews from the tour.


  1. Everything I've heard about this book has convinced me that I'll love it!! In on this tour in Feb and am so excited about reading this. I love how it looks at the issues from different viewpoints... Sounds like a lot to talk or think about after reading.

  2. Thanks for reminding me about this book, I really need to get my hands on a copy.

  3. I read Mrs. Kimble and really enjoyed it. I think this may be the next one that I pick up.

  4. I was amazed at how good this book was when I read it last year. It really captured my attention and made me care about and understand each character.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  5. So glad you loved it! I know exactly what you mean about thinking you're in a reading slump because nothing is really blowing your socks off. Then you read a book like this and you realize that you just needed to find the right book. Yay!

  6. This is definitely one worth checking out! Thanks for the feature Heather!

  7. Wonderful story of the catholic church and the sexual abuse crisis told from the eyes of the family of the accused priest. The story is told from the prospective of the priest and his sister and brother each of whom has an agenda.