At the beginning of “Faithful,” by Alice Hoffman, Shelby Richmond is suffering from severe depression, anxiety, guilt, and post-traumatic stress. It’s been two years since the car accident that ruined her best friend, Helene’s, life and Shelby has spent all this time (after a suicide attempt and being in the psych hospital) living in her parents basement with no contact to the outside world. She blames herself and doesn’t understand, “Why would an angel rescue her when she’s worthless and Helene, who was so much better than she could ever be, was right there, in desperate need of help?”
One night while out walking, she runs into Ben. “They stumbled into each other’s lives one cold winter when they were both desperate for warmth.” Even though Shelby tries to do everything she can to prevent it, they become friends. She decides to move to New York with Ben because she is haunted in her hometown and she wants to try to escape her past.
She soon finds in New York that you can’t escape your past. She eventually develops friendships even though, “She has never wanted to be involved with people. People are dangerous, unreliable, stupid, greedy, needy, breakable.” Despite her best efforts, people come into her life and she becomes attached to them and they slowly bring her back to life.
She has an eye for tragedy and sorrow and seeks out needy people and animals. Since she couldn’t help Helene, I feel like she tries to help everyone else she possibly can. “She understands abandonment and loneliness. Her desire to do right for those creatures is what fuels her.”
I won’t spoil the book for you, but the people and animals she helps, really end up helping her. I loved this book. I was immediately pulling for Shelby and wanted her to find her way in the world. The other characters in the book were lovely as well, especially the dogs!!!!
A few quotes from the book:
“Maybe that’s what love is. Maybe it’s like a hit-and-run accident; it smashes you before you can think. You do it no matter the cost and you keep on running.”
“If you don’t think you’re worth something, no one else will either.”
“How much of the world can never be understood or explained?”
“Life was beautiful, everyone knew that, but it was also bitter and bleak and unfair as hell and where did that leave a person?”