Dynamic Woman — Changing Times
Book Review: Faithful
I can’t help but compare Alice Hoffman’s Shelby Richmond to Lee Chandler, the self-hating protagonist in the film Manchester by the Sea. Both have caused misery to themselves and others. Both have had their hearts ripped out, but in Lee’s case, most of his soul died too. Not so with Shelby. As despairing as the film is, this novel is filled with hope.
We don’t all grow up, but most of us grow older. Maturity and an indomitable spirit are Shelby’s saving grace. Grace and patience and love–a mother’s love and that of a few friends.
Some books are meant to be read by mothers and daughters. This is one. Shelby’s mother Sue is always in the background but, as mothers do, she exerts a force to be reckoned with. In this case, it is gentle support of a healing that will take years.
The only thing I could fault this narrative for is overstatement of the role guilt plays in Shelby’s self-destructive behavior. We know. What I laud the author for is for challenging the dystopian point of view that we are victims of forces beyond our control. People do grow up, move on, and realize their potential.
Alice Hoffman’s Faithful is a cup of water drawn from a well of despair that gives precious hope to those who are thirsty for forgiveness. A beautifully crafted, realistic account of the human condition.
© Sydney Avey