Beautiful Story of Healing
Seventeen year old Shelby and her best friend, Helene, are in a horrific car crash. Helene is left in a permanent coma. Shelby recovers physically but she follows a path of self-destructive behavior. Shelby’s behavior is not only a way to punish herself for the accident but also a way to form a barrier to her mental recovery.
Having read Hoffman’s previous book, ‘The Rules of Magic’, I went into, ‘Faithful’, with the impression that it would have paranormal elements. When the story begins, I thought that the story would follow both Helene and Shelby. I was pleasantly surprised when, ‘Faithful’ turns out to follow Shelby’s mental health after the crash.
I’ve put off writing this review for a while. I wanted to give some thought into how I really felt about ‘Faithful’.
I really love Shelby’s story. In many ways, Shelby is just an ordinary person trying to overcome a tragedy. The way that Hoffman portrays Shelby as a flawed human but as an overall good person really endeared her to me and the story in general.
Shelby’s PTSD follows a true to life behavior pattern. Since Shelby blames herself for the accident, she justifies her self-destructive and self-deprecating behavior. She falls into a pattern of drug use, casual sex, criminal activity, and pushing people away. In the process of leading her life in this way, Shelby finds that she has a love for animals. Especially the animals, that are abused, mistreated, and misunderstood. The ones that really need her most. This not only helps give Shelby a process to heal but also heads her life in a new direction.
On the surface Faithful is just the story of Shelby’s life from seventeen to mid-twenties. Except for the accident that begins the story, Shelby leads a fairly normal life for a twenty something in NYC. However, Hoffman’s amazing writing really made me care for Shelby. Shelby’s determination to live life on her terms moved the story along and I was never once bored.
One of my favorite aspects of the story was Shelby’s passion for animal rescue and veterinary medicine. Although I have read other novels that incorporate veterinary medicine and/or animal rescue, these were always the main focus of the story. ‘Faithful’, tells the story of a life and interweaves the Shelby’s love for animals with the other harsh aspects of her life. I can also say, as a Vet Tech, that the veterinary medicine aspects were pretty believable (expect for the clinic smelling like Lysol, anyone who’s ever worked in an animal hospital will tell you that they always smell of Roccal).
I was really taken by surprise by, ‘Faithful’. The character of Shelby and her development as a person was absolutely amazing. Definitely a book for those overcoming something difficult in their lives. This story is just amazingly well written and I will push some of Hoffman’s books up on my TBR.