Sunday, July 17, 2011

Faith: A Novel by Jennifer Haigh

Faith: A Novel
Author: Jennifer Haigh
Publisher: Harper
Published: May 1 2011
Hardcover: 304 pages
Source: purchased at Borders

My Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from It is the spring of 2002 and a perfect storm has hit Boston. Across the city's archdiocese, trusted priests have been accused of the worst possible betrayal of the souls in their care. In Faith, Jennifer Haigh explores the fallout for one devout family, the McGanns.
Estranged for years from her difficult and demanding relatives, Sheila McGann has remained close to her older brother Art, the popular, dynamic pastor of a large suburban parish. When Art finds himself at the center of the maelstrom, Sheila returns to Boston, ready to fight for him and his reputation. What she discovers is more complicated than she imagined. Her strict, lace-curtain-Irish mother is living in a state of angry denial. Sheila's younger brother Mike, to her horror, has already convicted his brother in his heart. But most disturbing of all is Art himself, who persistently dodges Sheila's questions and refuses to defend himself.
As the scandal forces long-buried secrets to surface, Faith explores the corrosive consequences of one family's history of silence—and the resilience its members ultimately find in forgiveness. Throughout, Haigh demonstrates how the truth can shatter our deepest beliefs—and restore them. A gripping, suspenseful tale of one woman's quest for the truth, Faith is a haunting meditation on loyalty and family, doubt and belief. Elegantly crafted, sharply observed, this is Jennifer Haigh's most ambitious novel to date.

My Thoughts: Dealing with one of the tough issues that plagued our nation a few years ago, Jennifer Haigh writes a novel dealing with the priest molestations that were rampant a few years ago. With such a heavy topic, it would be easy for the book to become depressing but Haigh makes it more of a mystery, leaving the reader to decide for themselves what happened between her brother Art (the priest) and Aidan (the young boy). The story is narrated by Art's sister Sheila, who gives you a little family history and then fast-forwards to the present day and follows Art's tribulations as he deals with the accusations.

Instead of focusing on whether Art is guilty or not, Sheila spends most the novel detailing how her family is affected by the events. Their brother handles it differently than their mother, who handles it differently than Sheila. It isn't so much Art's story as the McGann family story. I don't want to go into too much detail because it was such a good book. Haigh's writing is clear, her characters alive and real, the topic relevant. It's something that I think anybody would enjoy. It is not accusing the Catholic church of wrongdoing or saying that all priests are bad. But it does show how a scandal such as this can rock not only the country, but the individual families. After finishing this book and Baker Towers (link to my review), I cannot wait to read more of Haigh's work.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I loved this one! I am certain it is going to be one of my favorites of the year.
    Like you, I have also read Baker Towers, and loved that one too. I did try to read The Condition, and couldn't get into it.