When Father Art is accused of abusing a young boy and asked to move out of the rectory, his sister Sheila comes home for the first time in years and is shocked by what she discovers. Her other brother, Mike, assumes Art is guilty, their mother is in denial, their father is senile, and Art refuses to defend himself. Sheila wants to believe in Art, but finds doubt making its way into her mind.
It was a thing I’d always known but until recently had forgotten: that faith is a decision. In it’s most basic form, it is a choice.
About a year ago, my friend Julie (Booking Mama) read Faith, by Jennifer Haigh, and all but challenged me to read it but I kept putting it off – reading about sexual abuse just seemed unsettling to me. Since it was my book club’s choice for June, I felt like I had to read it now and will admit to opening it with a sense of dread. All I can say is, I should have listened to Julie last year! Yes, this book is unsettling and even a little bit sad, but I thought it was fantastic!
Haigh was very clever in telling the story from Sheila’s point of view. Since readers only know what Sheila knows, the book is full of tension and doubt. As Sheila tries to prove Art’s innocence she discovers that her family harbors many secrets. She wants to believe in Art but his refusal to speak up is making it very difficult.
The story itself is full of twists and turns and just as I thought I had things figured out, Haigh would throw another curve at me. The book kept me at the edge of my seat and kept my heart in my throat most of the time. Even though it is ultimately sad, I thought there was hope and resilience in the book too. I found it to be heartbreaking and thought provoking.
I think Faith is the perfect title for this book since it speaks of faith in God, faith in man, and faith in those we love – do yourself a favor and read this book!
Everyone in my book club enjoyed this book. Quite often, it seems we don’t have much to discuss when everyone feels the same way about a book. That wasn’t the case with Faith – we found plenty to talk about! We started with these discussion questions and never looked back.