Faith by Jennifer Haigh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jennifer Haigh must have made a decision when she was writing Faith to keep a distance between the reader and the subject matter of this novel. She kept the point of view to Sheila McGann, while the vast majority of the story belongs to her half brother, Arthur Breen, a Boston area priest who has been accused of molesting a young boy. Haigh, as Sheila, speaks directly to the readers, even addressing them at least once as “Reader.” She relates the process she went through as she learned the truth about her brother and the other people involved. When she tells about scenes she couldn't see, she carefully clarifies that she is “imagining” what went on. This was the perfect choice for the subject. I felt emotion at the right times, but the distance helped me keep my mind open to all sides of this topic. It also helped me understand that the novel is not only about child abuse among the clergy. It's also about family issues, church politics, poor choices within relationships, and the influence of faith on decisions made by people with human failings.
Faith has a number of twists and turns that I do not want to reveal, so I will keep this review short. It is a wonderful book with strong characters. It helped me think about its subject in ways I had not considered previously. I think it's a perfect novel for bookclub discussions.
Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions
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