Monday, February 6, 2012

Faith by Jennifer Haigh

Title: Faith
Author: Jennifer Haigh

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Boston / Families / Catholic Church / Priest Abuse / Irish-Americans
Publisher/Publication Date: Harper Perennial (1/17/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked a great deal.
Did I finish?: Yes -- I inhaled this book.
One-sentence summary: A woman reflects on her childhood, her family, and her brother, a Catholic priest, when he's accused of sexual abuse during Boston's 2002 abuse scandal.

Do I like the cover?: Eh -- I'm not wild about it. I vastly prefer the hardcover design which fits the familial theme of the story.

First line: Here is a story my mother has never told me.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy or borrow -- this is a WOW! book.

Why did I get this book?: After so many book bloggers I like raved about it, I knew I had to give it a try, despite the discomforting topic. I'm a sucker for anything set in Boston.

Review: Everything you've heard about this book is true. It's beautifully written, complicated, conflicting, confusing, emotional, mesmerizing, and captivating.

I avoided this when it first came out because I usually can't stomach any kind of child abuse stuff, especially sexual abuse. Having grown up Catholic, and been in Boston during the abuse scandal, it still felt too close to home. But after seeing so many swoon-y reviews of this, I was curious -- and my curiosity was rewarded.

From the first page, with the bitterly poignant opening scene, I was hooked. There's a sizzling tension to the story -- did Sheila's brother molest one of his parishioners? -- and I literally couldn't put this book down. I inhaled the story.

Haigh's strength -- and the reason this story is so emotionally engrossing, I think -- is her characters and writing. This fractured Catholic family isn't overly dramatic or lurid. They felt authentic and real. (Having grown up Catholic in an Irish family, it was uncomfortably familiar at times!) Haigh has some of the loveliest passages in her novels, poetic and pretty, simple and breathtaking.

I'm being purposely vague about the plot because the unfolding story is worth it. Whether you're familiar with the Boston clergy scandal or not, consider this novel -- despite the horrifying topic, the story is beautifully done. Ultimately, this is a novel about family, about love and growing up, about self-worth, and the faith one has in each other, in family, and in life. A satisfying read.

*** *** ***


I'm thrilled to offer a copy of Faith to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/CA readers, ends 2/24.


  1. My book blogging buddy Anita gave this to me a few weeks ago, and I can't wait to read it! I have heard so many good things about it, and though it deals with a sensitive topic, I think it does so with tact and grace. Very wonderful review today! I am so thrilled that you loved it!

    1. Heather -- I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it. I was stunned that Haigh could do this -- I don't want to say I felt 'safe' because she didn't shirk or skirt the scandal, but I trusted her on the story's journey, if that makes sense, that where ever we went, it would be worth it. AND IT WAS. I'm so a hardcore Haigh fangirl now!

  2. So, this isn't my usual reading fare, but it sounds interesting! And your swooning makes me want to give it a try!

    1. I so agree with your stellar review here. This was a fabulous book, very character-driven. Haigh never resorts to sensationalism and she shows her characters such respect, despite the topic here. I think said this in my review, but once I started it, I felt like every moment not spent reading it was a moment wasted.

    2. "...but once I started it, I felt like every moment not spent reading it was a moment wasted." YES -- exactly. Like Haigh's Baker Towers, the characters just stuck with me -- same with the mood of the story. I'm blown away at how she took such a horrible story and made it beautiful.

  3. I'm glad this is not sensationalism. Thanks for the review and giveaway.

  4. I liked this one a lot as well, and the Boston setting worked well I thought. Glad u enjoyed it.

  5. Hah, I'm literally writing my review for this right now (for review tomorrow). I liked it too, of course, LOL. I didn't like this cover as much either when I first got it but it has grown on me. I took me a while to figure out what the cover signified, though... actually I'm not 100% sure that I got it, haha.

  6. This has been on my wish list ever since it was published. Really enjoyed a couple of her other books... must get to this soon!

  7. I was blown away by this book when I read it last year, and I had previously avoided it for the same reasons you did. I've been recommending it to just about everyone since then!

    Thanks for being on the tour Audra.

  8. I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one so much too! I read it when it came out last year and recall loving it, but my review was quite vague too, so I don't really remember how the plot unfolded. Perhaps I should read it again! I also concur about the new cover. I would not associate it with this book at all!

  9. I loved this book! It made my top 10 list for 2011. It was the first of Haigh's books I have read but I definitely want to read more.