FAITHFUL by Alice Hoffman (Audiobook)

faithful
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

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.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion — from dark suffering to true happiness — a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls — including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.


FAITHFUL is a sad yet hopeful coming of age story about a young woman dealing with grief and survivor’s guilt. After a tragic car accident, Shelby Richmond is able to walk away, but her best friend isn’t so lucky. Was there someone watching over her that night? Shelby is a troubled soul stuck in limbo when mysterious postcards start to arrive. The sender is anonymous and the messages are quite simple, but it’s just enough to nudge her forward, even a tiny bit.

I love Alice Hoffman’s prose, and the writing in this book is as beautiful as her others. Shelby’s character was difficult and not always easy to like, but deep down I knew she was good, partly due to her passion for rescuing misfit dogs! This is a story of healing, definitely pulled at my heartstrings. I had to grab the tissues a few times. FAITHFUL had a different “feel” to it than Hoffman’s other books I’ve read, though I still enjoyed it.


Audiobook • 8 hrs, 27 mins • Amber Tamblyn, Narrator

Amber Tamblyn narrated the audiobook, and this is the first time I’ve listened to a book read by her. I think she did fine with Shelby’s voice. Overall, nothing too emotional, which fit with Shelby’s apathetic disposition. If you prefer narrations with lots of inflection and drama, this wouldn’t be a good fit.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

LUCKY YOU by Erika Carter

luckyyou
Publisher: Counterpoint
Release Date: March 1, 2017
Source: Book of the Month Club Selection
Rating: ★★½


Three women, early twenties, find themselves aimlessly adrift in Erika Carter’s fierce and darkly funny debut novel, Lucky You. Ellie, Chloe and Rachel are friends (sort of); waitresses at the same tired bar in the Arkansas college town they’ve stuck around in too long. Each is becoming unmoored in her own way: Ellie obliterates all feeling with alcohol and self-destructive acts of sexual promiscuity; Chloe pulls out patches of her hair and struggles to keep incipient mental illness at bay; changeable Rachel has fallen under the sway of a messianic boyfriend with whom she’s agreed to live off-grid for a year in order to return to “health” and asks Ellie and Chloe to join them in “The Project”. In a remote, rural house in the Ozarks, nearly undone by boredom and the brewing tension between them, each tries to solve the conundrum of being alive.

By turns funny, knowing and hauntingly sad, Lucky You delivers the kind of study in damage and detachment that made Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior or Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays so memorable. With startling exactitude and wickedly deadpan humor, it lays bare the emotional core of its characters with surgical precision. The writing is deft and controlled, as natural and unforced as breath–which makes it impossible to look away.


I’ve been debating over how to rate this book. (This was my January 2017 Book of the Month Club selection.) It held my attention, but at the same time I had problems with it. It left me shaking my head, thinking what was the point?

Normally I would pass on a book about twenty-somethings trying to find themselves, but LUCKY YOU is set in Arkansas, and I have a thing for Arkansas, especially the Ozark Mountains. So, I gave it a try. The setting was wonderful, loved the descriptions, but the characters and plot were another story.

Ellie, Chloe, and Rachel were just flat-out unpleasant, and their backstories were lacking. It wasn’t clear to me why they behaved as they did. So, they become part of a project, living off the grid to escape the “Old World” and all the “unhealth” in it. Sounds fine, but I was disappointed in the results. The chapters alternate between each woman, then about halfway through, Chloe disappears, and the others have to finish up her story. Why ignore a main character?

Sad story. Sad characters. Unfortunately I missed the dark humor the blurb mentions. Haunting ― maybe, funny ― no.

THE MOUNTAIN STORY by Lori Lansens

The Mountain Story
THE MOUNTAIN STORY by Lori Lansens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was surprised by this book. I was expecting a survival story, action/adventure, but it was so much more. Deeper, moving, and heartrending. The writing was lovely. Definitely a tale that sticks with you.

The book is written as a letter from Wolf to his son Daniel, as he prepares to leave for college. It’s been twenty years since Wolf was lost on the mountain with three other people, and not everyone returned home. Wolf feels that Daniel is old enough now to know the truth.

The Mountain Story isn’t just about surviving the harsh elements of nature, no shelter, going days with very little food or water, it’s about Wolf managing to survive his entire difficult life.

Compelling blend of coming of age, friendship, sacrifice, loss, suspense, and of course, survival. I was quite surprised at the big twist at the end!!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.