27 February 2012

My Thoughts on Jennifer Haigh's, Faith


From the first line of Jennifer Haigh's wonderful novel Faith -- "Here is a story my mother has never told me" -- I was in it. The novel is Art McGann's story, told by his sister Sheila, and so it is her story as well.  It is also the story of the whole McGann family and of the Irish Catholic community in Boston, beginning with a chapter about her mother in her youth that seems strangely detached from the rest of the story...until it doesn't.  And, finally, it is a story about the Catholic Church, specifically, and faith in general.  Art is a Catholic priest and the only one of his siblings from his mother's first marriage.  He has been accused of molesting a young boy in his congregation, and his sister Sheila doesn't know whether or not to believe the accusation. She can't entirely have faith that he didn't do it.

And so Sheila tries to come to a conclusion through telling her story, which is a story about her family's secrets and her own shortcomings.  Art's story is a mystery, and Haigh writes it that way.  As Sheila struggles to come to her conclusions, she pieces together the story of her family like a detective.  I loved this point of view.  Sheila is an unreliable narrator, which I always love, and I deeply appreciated the layers that having the story told by a third party created.  This could easily have become a novel that seem overfocused on making a statement about an "issue," and, don't get me wrong, the book addresses important issues; but this book is so much more than a statement about something that we've seen on the news.  The book is really good and I highly recommend it; it's one of my favorite reads so far this year.

**I read this book for TLC Book Tours, and you can read the rest of the reviews on the tour HERE

Title: Faith
Author: Jennifer Haigh
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Date: 2011
Genre: Literary Fiction

318 pages.
Where I got it: From the publisher, through TLC Book Tours
Challenges:None



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