Faithful is a good YA novel with some realistic grit and an excellent rendering of teenage emotion. Hoffman perfectly describes adolescent/young adult self-centeredness — being egocentric without knowing it — the feeling that no one understands you and you’re the only one going through so much pain.
Hoffman has a terrific way of harnessing the overwhelming despair Shelby feels without making the book contrived or too angsty. I believed in Shelby as she looked for ways to save herself – some destroyed her further, but some were steps toward healing. Hoffman beautifully illustrated a realistic message of HOPE – there’s a way out and something better waiting, but it’s up to you to grab a hold of the ladder rungs. In Faithful, Shelby achieved more than she ever bargained for: she found her savior, and became one to someone else.
*This novel is not appropriate for teens under age 15 due to brief and infrequent but graphic and vulgar descriptions of sex.*
I’ve heard it said that the entire young adult genre is one big cliche. Story after story of young people depressed, suicidal, on drugs, bullied or bullying, and so on. Admittedly, I’ve even thought the same thing myself a time or two. But books such as this one remind us that there’s a reason these stories continue to be written.
Charlie is a cutter. Not just your run-of-the-mill-make-a-few-scratches cutter. She cuts so deeply and so often that little of her skin remains pristine. And the last time sent her to an inpatient facility for treatment. Now she’s being released. Not because she’s been cured, but because there’s no money left to pay for treatment. If only she could depend on her mom for help, but no. So she finds herself back out on the streets. And she’d likely find herself in the same dangerous situation as before if not for the help of one friend who gives her the promise of a fresh start in a fresh place.
If only things were that simple. Her new life is filled with obstacles she has no idea how to handle. She doesn’t know how to live on her own, unless it’s on the streets. She’s never been very good at making and keeping new friends. And her coping mechanisms leave something to be desired. When she thinks she finds love, it’s not a good thing. Because two damaged souls together are destined for trouble.
This book was oh so very good for so very many reasons. It doesn’t feel preachy or condescending, but instead reads like a true to life tale. The story alternates in traditional verse and an almost poetic style of writing. Charlie is so sad and has lived such a hard life. You want her to succeed. If only you could climb into the pages of the book and hold her hand. One of the best stories I’ve read in a very long time!