Sunday, August 19, 2007

Keeping Faith - Jodi Picoult: A Review

Title: Keeping Faith

Author: Jodi Picoult
Date Finished: August 19, 2007
Pages: 422
Rating: 4.5/5

After reading The Tenth Circle and Nineteen Minutes earlier this year and feeling a little disappointed in both (relatively, of course), I was thrilled by this book! Its still not my favorite, but out of the five I've read it is right in the middle (which still speaks a lot since The Pact and My Sister's Keeper are two of the best books I've read).

Keeping Faith was of course filled with sticky subject matter. The book begins as Mariah and her seven-year-old daughter Faith walk in Colin (husband/father) with another woman. Colin leaves, Mariah falls into a fit of depression, and Faith begins talking to her "guard" - an imaginary friend that only she can see or hear. After Mariah takes Faith to a psychologist, it becomes clear that Faith is communicating with God. As many of the religious consultants in the book explain, communication with God is one thing, but Faith also appears to be performing miracles as well as exhibiting stigmata on her palms. Not only does this complicate little Faith's life in making her different from the other children that she knows from school, but the press begins to have a field-day with the strange events. And if that isn't bad enough, her father also sues Mariah for full-custody of Faith believing that she is being harmed.

Sticky situations. What I really liked about this book is the grace with which Picoult handles the subject matter of religion. What becomes really interesting throughout the book is that Faith is not Catholic as the stigmata would suggest, nor does she have a strong background in religion as her visions would suggest. Instead, she is a child from a mixed-faith marriage (Jewish and Christian) with very little religious instruction. The other thing that I appreciate about the book is the discussion of second chances, about taking control of one's life, about a mother's love for her child. I would definitely recommend this book.


Kristen said...

Hi! I don't remember if I've commented here before, but I've been enjoying your blog lately. Great review -- I've been meaning to pick up a Jodi Picoult and didn't know where to start. This one sounds like it could be just my kind of thing if it's not overly proselytizing, but if My Sister's Keeper and The Pact are better maybe I'll start with one of those...

Stephanie said...

I was really disappointed in The Tenth Circle. Not so much Nineteen Minutes though. I really thought it was good. But it does seem to me her earlier books are better. Have you read Plain Truth yet? I thought that one was just fantastic!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Kristen - thanks for stopping by. I've been on a bit of a hiatus, so I've been playing catch-up on my posts the past day (ever since getting Internet again!).

Anyway, I really liked this one, but all of her books are so different. The Pact is about two teenagers deeply in love, but the girl commits suicide rather suddenly, which causes a lot of turmoil in the two families. My Sister's Keeper (my fav) is about a girl who has leukemia from early childhood and since neither parent is a good match they conceive a baby who is a perfect match. So basically the younger child is the perpetual donor for the older child until she decides to sue her family to keep them from "using" her body.

Picoult is very easily one of my favorite authors.

Stephanie - 19 minutes was good, but it wasn't great in my opinion. Definitely better than 10th Circle, though. I haven't read Plain Truth, but I saw it at the bookstore they other day and had to use every ounce of restraint to keep from purchasing it. :) I have TOO many books! I've also heard that Vanishing Acts is really good.

Kristen said...

Hey, thanks for the rundown! Now I really want to read My Sister's Keeper -- it sounds awesome.

alisonwonderland said...

i haven't yet read Keeping Faith, but i've read Nineteen Minutes (which i really liked), The Tenth Circle (which i liked better than anyone else i've heard - i thought the concept was brilliant, but maybe not executed as well as it could have been), The Pact (which i also really liked), My Sister's Keeper (which was the first Picoult novel i read and still my favorite), Plain Truth (which disappointed me a bit, probably because my expectations were too high based on all the praise i'd heard), and Vanishing Acts (which is another favorite of mine).

i'd never read a Picoult novel until this year, but she's now a favorite of mine too.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Kristen - My Sister's Keeper was my favorite Picoult book, but it is really close between that and The Pact, and then Keeping Faith. Really, I think that any book you pick up by her you won't go wrong with.

Alison - Thanks for coming by! I have heard great things about Vanishing Acts, so that will probably be my next Picoult book. I love her books as well!

Lisa said...

This was the first Picoult I added to my TBR. I also have 19 Minutes, My Sister's Keeper, The Tenth Circle, and The Pact. I HAVE NOT READ A SINGLE ONE. I am hopeless.

PS Thanks for all the comments on my blog, it was nice!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Lisa - I've been gone for a few weeks, so I've been playing catch up on everyone's blogs, which is why so many comments! I've read all five of those books and this is my order of preference: My Sister's Keeper, The Pact, Keeping Faith, Nineteen Minutes, and The Tenth Circle.

I hope you enjoy them--she pulls you in which makes them "easy" to read, but they are also "freezer" books. :) Tough topics!!

Lisa said...

I am so bad at "freezer" books! Takes me forever to get through them. I am not good with drama!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Lisa - I know, I know! Those are my favorites, though.

Anonymous said...

hi,i was reading keeping faith but dindt finish it. please i would like you to tell me how does it finish. cause i dont have the book anymore :S i think i lost it. just the las 2 chapters if you can:)

Anonymous said...

ps. fer

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Anonymous - it's been over a year since I read this book so I'm foggy on the ending (but I'll skim through and see if I can remember).
The mom and the reporter get together--and the ending kind of insinuates that Faith was never really communicating with God. The last line: "With her heart pounding and her fists clutching the comforter, Faith continues to talk to no one at all, until she hears her mother's voice again downstairs, until she is certain that nobody is listening."
Hope that helps! :)

Anonymous said...

I just finished Keeping Faith. The ending REALLY confused me!!! I have read all of Jodi;s books and this one baffled me. Was it GOD or her MOM she was talking to? Or did she see her Mom as GOD? Any thoughts are appreciated..

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

*Taco - LOL--it's been over a year since I've read it so I'm a little foggy on the ending. I typed up a spoiler above in the comments a month ago and was really confused when I read the last page of the book as a refresher!! :)

Anyway, from my re-reading of it (a month ago), I think maybe Picoult is implying that Faith was never really talking to God...? I don't know if she necessarily thought her mom was God, but it does kind of imply that maybe she was "talking" to God for her mom's benefit? What do you think...??

Julie said...

What was also confusing was how Faith called for God, looking around the room, under the bed and in the closet. That threw me because if she wasn't making it up, why would she have done all that searching? Maybe since she had made such a case over the God thing, she felt she had to "keep it up" for her mom since her mom said she believed her. Children will try to please their parents, and if she thought this did the trick, that may have been why she was trying to keep up appearences.
Loved this book though!

Anonymous said...

Picoult did an interview in the back of my version of the book. Here's what was said:

What in the blazes did you mean by the end of Keeping Faith?

At the end of Keeping Faith, I wanted you to feel like Mariah and Millie and Ian and everyone else who comes into contact with Faith - like you've had to rethink what you believe. Whether you think she's a prophet or a messiah or a fake, she is ultimately a little girl who hasn't had her mom's attention before. And at that moment, at least, she does fake speaking to God, because she isn't willing to lose that attention. That said, I don't personally believe that Faith is faking all along, I think that God moves onto someone more needy in that last scene. But I did want you to remember above all else that she's a kid - lest you fall into the same mistake that some of the media did during the course of the book.

So ultimately, every answer posted could be correct, but it's that final question that's more important. Just like Ian, Picoult won't tell you what to believe - that's what makes her better novels great. Is the ending of My Sister's Keeper ironic? or a blessing? Same with Change of Heart - which is amazing. While not being absudist in any form, Picoult reminds me of the non-judgmental and "meaning-of-life" question raising style of Camus.

Harmmie said...

Hi, I am halfway reading Keeping Faith and I am a big fan of Jodi Picoult. I have My Sister's Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, Handle With Care, Change of Heart, Plain Truth, Perfect Match, and her latest, House Rules. I have to say, her books are so different. And I highly recommend that you guys should read Change of Heart, it is the best I've read so far, it's an awesome book.

Her books are non-judgemental, interprete a lot of deep thoughts in readers, and often powerful and fascinating. Just how I like it!