My rating: 4/5
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.
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel and is a good reminder not to judge a book by its cover as I was expecting a fluff love story. It was anything but (even though there was some love but an unexpected kind). Regardless of incidents, I believe we all can hold guilt for negatively impacting another person’s life, no matter if intentional or not. Hoffman conveys this feeling of hopelessness, depression, and despair poignantly. The thought processes, the distance from relationships, the intentional harm (physically and emotionally) – all relateable to the lowest points of humanity.
The piece about the fortune-cookies and how Shelby never looks at them is a profound statement, I believe. Deep down, it seemed that Shelby wanted to make the future her own and not rely on luck and predictions. In a way, that’s what she did slowly but surely after the car accident. Letting the wind take her wherever it led until she just knew where she wanted to be and with whom. Accidents change people, sometimes for the worse, but sometimes the outcomes are more than one could ever imagine. Shelby became a whole new person and realized that her best friend Helene was not the same either. She learned how to forgive herself and embrace the life she now has, making it filled with hope, love, and acceptance.
Here are some quotes that epitomize the depth of what rich content Hoffman writes:
“…that’s what love is. Maybe it’s like a hit-and-run accident; it smashes you before you can think. You do it no matter the cost and you keep on running.” (Hoffman 122)
“‘If you don’t think you’re worth something, no one else will either.'” (Hoffman 156)
“‘Well, I think of life as a novel. You can’t just hop out of the mess you’re in and into another story. You carry it all with you.'” (Hoffman 198)
“For so long Shelby has prided herself on feeling nothing. Every time she held her hand over a flame, every time she ruined a relationship, every time she shaved her head, it was proof of who she was. A girl no one could hurt.” (Hoffman 210)
“What is behind you is gone, what is in front of you awaits” (Hoffman 243)
What are your thoughts on fate and guilt over something out of your control?