Keeping Faith is that rare creature often theorised about – a middle-ground Jodi Picoult book! I say this because I tend to feel strongly about her books, one way or the other. I either love them and think about them for days like My Sister’s Keeper and Handle with Care, or can’t even finish the damn things like The Pact or Salem Falls. I was beginning to think all the author’s books would provoke such strong reactions in me, but apparently not. Keeping Faith is profoundly, deeply … okay.
Plot summary – For the second time in her marriage, Mariah White catches her husband with another woman, and Faith, their seven-year-old daughter, witnesses every painful minute. In the aftermath of a sudden divorce, Mariah struggles with depression and Faith begins to confide in an imaginary friend.
At first, Mariah dismisses these exchanges as a childs imagination. But when Faith starts reciting passages from the Bible, develops stigmata, and begins to perform miraculous healings, Mariah wonders if her daughter a girl with no religious background might indeed be seeing God. As word spreads and controversy heightens, Mariah and Faith are besieged by believers and disbelievers alike, caught in a media circus that threatens what little stability they have left.
Is Faith a prophet or a troubled little girl? Is Mariah a good mother facing an impossible crisis or a charlatan using her daughter to get attention?
Jodi Picoult has a knack for taking her characters’ feelings out of their heads and planting them firmly inside you. As a result, I now feel profoundly depressed. I know none of her books are exactly uplifting, but this one has such an aura of misery around it that I really didn’t want to pick it up between reads. As a result, it took me a whole month to finish, simple because I didn’t feel like slinking round under a storm cloud for the rest of the day.
Speaking of the characters (which I was. Kind of) there isn’t a likeable one in the whole book – Mariah is incredibly irresponsible, Millie is too judgemental and Colin… URGH Colin. I know that the basic point of the book is to not sympathise with Colin (I’ve met too many ‘Colins’ in my limited experience in Family Law) but even so.
The thought makes my heart catch – what if I couldn’t keep Faith?
Suddenly I feel strong enough to move a mountain. To single-handedly sweep away all the people who have stolen my privacy. To carry Faith to where nobody has the chance to touch her in passing or snag pilled wool from her sweaters or sort through her discarded trash.
I am strong enough to admit that maybe I’m doing alright as a mother, all things considered. And I am certainly strong enough to admit that, for the first time in my life, I wish Colin would just go away.
Keeping Faith isn’t really as law-centred as her other books until much closer to the end. It’s replaced by religious themes instead, as various members of various religions troop by to have a look at Faith (the child, not the concept). I felt that it dragged on a little too much and I’d have preferred the courtroom drama happening a little earlier – then again, that is pretty much why I read these books in the first place.
The romance is a bit contrived and not all that believable. You never really saw the two people fall in love; you were just expected to somehow believe that they had. I’m slightly torn over the ending though – it doesn’t explain certain aspects as well as I’d like, but then again it is lacking the usual bluntness of a Jodi Picoult ending. I can’t decide.
Either way, Keeping Faith isn’t a bad book. I didn’t dislike it; I just didn’t want to pick it up again to continue reading. It could have been so much better, perhaps with a little less of Mariah’s self-pity and a little more action/Law.
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