A new novel from the author of Practical Magic. Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
This is a luminous book that sucks you in ... Though coincidences sometimes play an oversized role in advancing the plot, Faithful doesn’t have the magical realism elements that are found in some of Hoffman’s fiction. Nor is it a young-adult novel, strictly speaking — though Shelby and her milieu will surely resonate with younger readers as well as...um, mature reviewers.
What’s most vexing about Faithful is that you’re supposed to feel like a monster if you laugh. Hoffman builds Shelby out of trauma and not much else, and her observations suffer from a certain clichéd vagueness ... Faithful is most successful when describing the everyday details and habits of Manhattan ... If you can hang up your disbelief and surrender to the soft-focus glow, the book becomes enjoyable, satisfying even, as the mystery of the postcards is solved and the catharses arrive right on schedule. In the end, it feels as harmlessly saccharine as an after-dinner mint, with one exception — the disclosure, early in the book, that when Shelby was in the mental hospital she was raped repeatedly by an orderly. It’s a terrible choice on Hoffman’s part, seemingly made only to increase Shelby’s misery.