Review and Questions: Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult


Somewhere between belief and doubt lies faith. For the second time in her marriage, Mariah White catches her husband with another woman and Faith, their seven year old daughter, witnesses every painful minute. In the aftermath of a sudden divorce, Mariah struggles with depression and Faith seeks solace in a new friend… a friend who may or may not be imaginary.

Faith talks to her “Guard”constantly; begins to recite passages from the Bible— a book she’s never read. Fearful for her daughter’s sanity, Mariah sends her to several psychiatrists. Yet when Faith develops stigmata and begins to perform miraculous healings, Mariah wonders if her daughter– a girl with no religious background– might indeed be seeing God. As word spreads and controversy heightens, Mariah and Faith are besieged by believers and disbelievers alike, caught in a media circus that threatens what little stability they have left.

What are you willing to believe? Is Faith a prophet or a troubled little girl? Is Mariah a good mother facing an impossible crisis— or a charlatan using her daughter to reclaim the attention her unfaithful husband withheld? As the story builds to a climactic battle for custody, Mariah must discover that spirit is not necessarily something that comes from religion, but from inside oneself.

Fascinating, thoughtful, and suspenseful, Keeping Faith explores a family plagued by the media, the medical profession, and organized religion in a world where everyone has an opinion but no one knows the truth. At her controversial and compelling best, Jodi Picoult masterfully explores the moment when boundaries break down, when illusions become reality, and when the only step left to take is a leap of faith.

Warning!! This review will have SPOILERS!!! 

Read at your own risk of knowing the ending without having read the book.

My Review:

I purchased this book on my Nook Glowlight.  I don’t like reading books about stigmata and was a little leery about this book, but because it was from Jodi Picoult and was only $2.99, I knew I could trust the book would be written with balance and integrity within a ficionalized book.  Jodi Picoult does not disappoint!

The story starts with Mariah and her daughter, Faith having a very normal, typical life.  En route to dance class, Faith reminds her mom that her leotard was left at home.  U-turning home, Faith and Mariah notice Colin is back from his work trip and little Faith runs inside the house to embrace her daddy that she loves and adores.  However, Faith and Mariah walk in on Colin and his mistress, Jessica.  From there, the story truly begins.

Mariah spirals into a depression, however she is able to rely on her mom to take care of Faith while she is basically comatose from the shock of finding out about the affair.  Faith stops talking and is basically catatonic from walking in on her dad and the mistress and feeling it’s her fault that her family split up.

The debate of God’s existence, religion and non-religion, family, spirituality, science, and mental illness are some of the topics that Jodi addresses in this book.  There are so many layers to this storyline, with complex characters, that I found myself immersed in this book quite quickly.  I’ve read House Rules by Jodi Picoult and didn’t like the way the chapters were broken down by character’s viewpoints.  This story is written primarily through Mariah’s point of view,with different characters at times sharing from their viewpoint, however it is only done when it will enhance the storyline…not confuse it.

Because Mariah is a non-practicing Jew and Colin is a non-practicing Episcopalian, Catholic priests and Rabbi’s start showing up at the house to question Faith.  The primary issues are: is God female, does Faith have stigmata, and can God perform miracles through a girl who doesn’t follow a religion nor know anything about the Bible.  Then, there is Ian, an atheist that is as famous as Billy Graham and is on tour.  His tour takes him to Faith, where he is determined to show that Faith is a hoax and her mother is behind it all.  However, he starts to know the family, falls in love with Mariah, and his faith is questioned as he witnesses a miracle.  While he tries to figure out how to run his show, please the producers, and keep the trust he has with Mariah and Faith, he has his own challenges to go through in this book.

Again, there are just so many issues that each character is faced with overcoming that you will engaged throughout the whole book!

In the end, readers will finish the book knowing that God is real, Jesus is the son of God, and miracles do happen today.  While there is a lot that happens in the book, I don’t want to share too much because I highly recommend this book to everyone.  However, I will add that I was quite confused with the ending of the book.  While the book does overall end with questions answered, I was quite perplexed by the last scene in the book.  I realize that the author is showing that God moved on to another person who needed Him more and also to show that it was God performing the miracles and not Faith, but what was the deal with Mariah’s “knife” smile????  Why did Jodi use that particular word in the book?  I can understand that Faith is scared when she realizes that she is now alone and God (Guard) is no longer with her, and even that she carries a private conversation (meant to be heard by Mom) because she was in some ways scared Mom would start ignoring her again and/or Faith would no longer be important to her (of course, this is through a child’s perspective), but the knife smile is what really confused me.  Is it that mom could see through Faith and realized that God’s spirit was around either and the knife smile was her cutting through the B.S. or that Mariah was angry to leave Ian and check on her (so in some ways regressing to old patterns)?  In the end, it is quite clear that both will need counseling as is suggested by Kenzie, psychiatrists, and the lawyers.  This end scene just confirms that.  What are your thoughts?

To read what more about Keeping Faith, check out Jodi’s website! 

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