Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Read more...
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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-09-05
- Reviewer: Staff
The sweet-natured latest novel from Hoffman (The Marriage of Opposites) ambles along pleasantly enough as it follows the recovery from grief of young Shelby Richmond. As a high school senior, Shelby is driving with her best friend Helene one snowy February night on Long Island when her car goes out of control, leaving Helene in a coma and Shelby ridden with guilt. After a suicide attempt, three months in a psychiatric institution, and a couple of years hiding out in her parents basement smoking marijuana, Shelby moves to Manhattan, gets a job, makes friends, rescues several dogs, finds a calling, and finds and loses and then finds love. Shes helped along on this path by homemade postcards from a mysterious source with messages such as Feel something and Save something. A subplot involving the magical powers attributed to Helene by the hundreds of people who troop faithfully to her door in hopes of a cure goes almost nowhere, and Shelbys lifeone learning experience after anotheris oddly episodic. The novel, with its hopeful message and well-intentioned characters, will appeal for the relatability of Shelbys slow coming-of-age, romantic difficulties (many of her own making), difficulty in choosing a career, and changing relationship with her parents. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM Partners. (Nov.)
A teen facing tragedy
Bestselling author Alice Hoffman returns to contemporary fiction with Faithful, a heartrending coming-of-age story.
In the novel, teenager Shelby Richmond must try to rebuild her life after a car accident leaves her best friend, Helene, in a vegetative state. We talked to Hoffman, who has published more than 25 novels for adults and teens, about love, grief, postcards and Paul McCartney.
Faithful leaves readers feeling as though they’ve spent time with Shelby and her family and friends. Is there a teenager or young woman in your life who in some way inspired Shelby and her friends?
I think there’s a bit of Shelby in every woman and girl. For me, she’s her own person—one I fell in love with despite her troubles and hard times. And I think her relationship with her mother, Sue, is very relatable to everyone who has ever had a difficult daughter, or been one.
The postcards Shelby receives throughout Faithful serve as tangible words of encouragement. Do you keep such encouraging messages around you?
I always think words can get us through the toughest times—it may not be postcards for me personally, but it is books. Books have been a survival mechanism for me—a life raft, and so I think it’s fitting that words help to save Shelby.
Have you ever had a pen pal? What role did that person’s correspondence play in your life?
I wrote to Paul McCartney but he never wrote back! My professor of writing and his wife, also a writer, were my mentors. We wrote to each other for nearly 30 years and I treasured their letters.
Dogs also play a significant role in this story. Were you inspired by pets in your life?
Growing up, my dog was the “person” I related to most. I’ve always had dogs and can’t imagine my life without them. In fact, I named my most recent dog “Shelby” after Shelby in Faithful.
Your books often deal with place, and lately you’ve shared a number of pictures of lovely places on your social media channels. Where do you feel most at home? Most creative?
I love the Cape, and Manhattan, and Paris, and so many other places. But to write I just need a chair anywhere.
You’re a prolific writer, capable of turning out deeply felt, thoughtful novels at a rate of sometimes one per year. What are your writing habits?
I tend to write early in the day, and I set my alarm to do so. I outline, and I rewrite and rewrite, many drafts. I have a few people I trust who are my earliest readers.
What are you working on next?
I’m very excited to be working on the prequel to my novel Practical Magic, called The Rules of Magic. It takes place in New York City in the 1960s and follows the lives of the aunts in Practical Magic. It was great fun to write, and, I hope, to read.