Thursday, 6 January 2011

Home Girl's 100+ Reading Challenge Book Review - Keeping Faith, Jodi Picoult

I'm such a joiner! There seems to be so many reading challenges getting around, so I was caught at a weak moment when visiting a friend's blog - thanks Theresa @ Substitute Teacher's Saga - and signed up and began writing my first review instantly as anyone who knows me knows I read like a demon. Here it is, only 99 to go! Ha! Ha! Of course I won't be posting them all on my blog. I will be writing up the books I read in the sidebar under the 'Sign Up' image. If you want to join up, click on the image in my right-hand sidebar and get reading and tell us about it..

As the great Stephen King says: 'If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write.'

Keeping Faith, by Jodi Picoult

I’d always thought I’d read this book but it turns out I hadn’t, so it was one of my first reads for 2011. I’m a huge fan of Jodi Picoult's contemporary fiction and this book didn’t disappoint. She can be hard work, as she is a fan of multiple plots and viewpoints, but she moves the story on smoothly. Keeping Faith is a great read.

The book is enlightening and often inspiring, as Picoult deals with contemporary issues in a gloves-off manner. It is a difficult story to get your emotions and thoughts around at times as she has written on a topic that may challenge your preconceptions regarding religion, but the end result is worth it.

Picoult loves taking on provocative and inflammatory topics which is one of the reasons I'm such a fan. In Keeping Faith, she tackles a series of contemporary and often painful issues - infidelity, divorce, custody battles and single parenthood. She deals with all of these issues through sensitive and moving writing. Then, in true Picoult style, she veers in a different direction, shaking the reader out of complacency and into a maelstrom of faith, inspiration, and even the bizarre world of religious stigmata. This triggers a great deal of debate, even among the faithful. How does the everyday person understand, appreciate, or even adapt to the weird and the uncanny?

The MC, Mariah White is still reeling from her divorce and rendered practically catatonic by the crumbling of what she believed was her perfect life. Having seven-year-old Faith, her much-loved daughter, suck her into the spiritually mysterious is unbearably difficult for the embittered single mother.

There is the clever play on words - “Faith” does double duty both as a child’s name and an issue that the beleaguered Mariah has to deal with - this is just one of the areas where Picoult challenges the reader repeatedly. So many of the issues and concerns expressed by her characters focus on, and indeed reflect, the images of “real” people and their experiences. When the seven-year-old begins to talk to an imaginary friend that she calls “Guard,” and there are even faint intimations that this “friend” is Faith’s personal depiction of how she sees God, the reader gets sucked into the story regardless of what their personal views are.

Picoult can be verbose and overly detailed, and sometimes her characters could be further developed, but even so, she makes it easy to root for the underdog. It is also easy to dislike some characters – in this case, the cheating husband and his slimy lawyer make you fume and give you somewhere to focus your angst-ridden horror over the situations that Rye and Faith suffer at the hands of these two bullies.

The ending may leave you a little disgruntled. If you are looking for a casual, light-hearted read, this probably isn’t the book for you. However, if you don’t mind having your eyes opened, your senses pummelled, and your imagination fired up by the possibilities of the miraculous, then this book should give you much reading pleasure.

Denise Covey 2011


  1. I just started reading House Rules. I really like it so far.
    Keep on reading!

  2. Nice review, thank you. I have several Jodi Picoult's books on my TBR pile. I must get on with them.

  3. Hi L'Aussie! I've read this one! :) Great review! I was surprised to read the ending of this novel, too. Don't know what to make of it. I've read other books of Jodi Picoult - Change of Heart and Picture Perfect. I've got Mercy and House Rules to read soon. Thanks for the great review!

  4. I will be looking forward to your reviews! (you must not sleep...)

  5. I haven't read any Picoult yet, but I've been meaning to. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Thanks for the Aussie dictionary!

    I agree w/ Stephen King's comment--always been my motto. Some days I wish all I could do is read a book w/ NO interruptions.

    Thanks for the review of Keeping Faith--will add that to my list.

  7. You're so cute! I love how you say you thought you had read this but it turns out that you hadn't.

    I gave you an award on my blog! I think you're great!

  8. Jenny: Yep, I think I have them all!

    Len: She's a great author isn't she?

    Laura: Not sure how many I should post. Yep, I sleep occasionally!

    Samantha: You won't be sorry!

    Lisa: You'll love it I'm sure.

    Joanna: Yes, you must!!

    Patricia: I read so much I get a bit confused, ha ha, especially as all Jodi Picoult covers look the same these days!

    Cute of you to say so. Thanks. I'll pop over..:)

  9. Ugh...multiple character shifts. I labor very hard not to do that. But some genres seem to accept that better than others. I'm interested in this book because of your review. Nice job.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  10. Wow, it would be a stretch for me to read half that many in a year. Good luck with that. :)

  11. Nancy: Yes, I often hate this but Jodi does it well.

    MT: Yes, I know. I can't help myself.

  12. I try to read all of hers--how did I miss this one? She is my favorite author!! Is this one new out? Thanks for the review. I'm reading one of hers now!

  13. Terri: No, this is one of her older books! She is up there with my favourites!


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