Friday, September 30, 2011

242 (2011 #47). Keeping Faith

 by Jodi Picoult

I read this for an online book discussion.  While I have enjoyed the other three Picoult novels I have read, I did not like this one.

The Faith of the title is a seven-year-old girl whose parents divorce after she and her mother catch her father with a naked woman in the bathroom.  Not long after, Faith starts seeing God (a female who she calls her Guard), miracles happen in her presence, and she develops stigmata.

Word gets around and suddenly there's a media circus around Faith and her mother Mariah, who has custody.  A tele-atheist named Ian hears about Faith and decides to prove she's a fake.  Instead, he falls for Mariah, and she for him.

Meanwhile, Faith's father Colin decides to sue for custody and uses Mariah's previous suicide attempt (after finding him in bed with an earlier woman) and subsequent hospitalization (she was involuntarily committed by him) as the basis for a Munchausen by Proxy accusation.  When the case goes to trial, Faith is in the hospital, dying......But of course, it all ends well.

I disliked nearly all of the characters in this book, including Faith, and found them unbelievable.  Why would two agnostic parents (one brought up Jewish) name their daughter Faith?  It does make for a clever book title, though.  Faith is a cipher.  While she might be making up her visions of God, the stigmata are real.  I felt some sympathy for Mariah, particularly with the way the despicable Colin used her nervous breakdown against her, but also felt she was a wimp.  Ian was totally unlikeable and the romance was completely unrealistic, as was the behavior of the guardian ad litem Kenzie.  I can't recommend this disappointing book.

© Amanda Pape - 2011

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my university library.]

Thursday, September 29, 2011

241 (2011 #46). Falling Together

by Marisa de los Santos

This book was...okay.  It's the story of three college friends, Pen, Cat (I found these cutesy nicknames for Penelope and Catalina annoying), and Will.  The reader learns how they meet and some of what they did in college, and also that about four years after graduation, their friendship falls apart.

Most of the story is told from the point of view of Pen, a single mother who appears to be working as a book/author promoter, with a five-year-old daughter born after an affair with a married man.  There is a peripheral story including this man and his wife that doesn't really go anywhere. Will is an author of children's books who has a bit of a temper.  Cat was an enigma, not appearing (except in flashbacks) until nearly the end of the book.  I liked Pen and Will and even (to some extent) Jason, but I found I did not like Cat.

Pen and Will get e-mails from Cat begging them to come to their ten-year college reunion.  They do, but Cat's not there.  Her husband, Jason - who treated Cat badly on their first date in college - enlists their help in finding her. The end, I thought, was rather predictable.

The book jumps around a lot in time, which made it hard to follow at times and disrupted its flow. I found this book quite easy to put down, and it took me a long time to finish reading its 358 pages.

Some of the writing in the book is quite lovely, especially about Pen's lingering grief over the death of her father. At other times, the writing is frustrating, with too many long parenthetical phrases, and too much redundancy.  This was an advance reader edition, so perhaps that will be corrected in the final version (due October 4).  It does have some worthwhile things to say about friendship and love.

Other reviews I've read indicate that the author's previous two books were rather good, so I would give her works another chance.  I don't think I would recommend starting with this one.  Pretty cover, though.

© Amanda Pape - 2011

[This advance reader edition was sent to me by the publisher.  It will be passed on to someone else to appreciate.]