Review: Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

By: Megan Ford
Jodi Picoult is a very well known author who began publishing books in 1992, and she has come out with about one book a year since then. Her books very frequently hit the New York Times Best Seller List and most recently include Nineteen Minutes, Handle With Care, House Rules, and Sing You Home, all of which debuted at number 1. Picoult has received a number of awards for her writing, including the New England Bookseller’s Award for Fiction, the Book Browse Diamond Award for novel of the year, and Cosmopolitan magazine’s “Fearless Fiction” award in 2007.
One of Picoult’s extremely successful novels is titled Keeping Faith. With a total of 432 pages (paperback) or 468 pages (hard cover), Keeping Faith was published in 1999 and was placed number 15 on the NYT Best Seller List in September of 2008.
In Keeping Faith, a young girl deals with the aftermath of her parent’s divorce. Mariah White has caught her husband cheating for the second time during their marriage, and Faith White (her daughter) witnessed the entire thing. While Mariah fights depression, Faith gains a new friend who may or may not be real. Faith does not have a religious background by any means, yet she begins to recite passages from the Bible after she’s talked to her “guard” constantly. Mariah sends Faith to a psychiatrist who points out that it’s common for young children to develop imaginary friends while going through a traumatic experience. However, the psychiatrist cannot explain why a Jewish girl who has never read the Bible is suddenly quoting biblical passages. News of this reaches Ian Fletcher, an open atheist who tours the country discrediting “miracles” that involve God. He visits Mariah and Faith and meets Millie Epstein, Mariah’s mother. Their confrontation leads to Millie having a heart attack and she is taken to the hospital. Millie is pronounced dead and when Faith “kisses her goodbye” an hour later, Millie comes back to life. After performing a couple other miracles, including curing a baby with AIDS, Faith develops a disease called stigmata.
Stigmata is a disease in which the victim develops wounds that are very similar to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus. It includes bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in the hands and feet, and in some cases rope marks on the wrists. In Faith’s case she developed holes in her hands and was bleeding and in a vast amount of pain.
Colin White, Faith’s father, hears about all this and decides that Mariah is not fit to take care of their daughter. He sues her for custody. Throughout the rest of the novel, Mariah and Ian end up falling in love, and Faith is put in full custody of her mother.
Keeping Faith is not only a phenomenal book, but it does all the things that are expected when a reader picks up a Jodi Picoult novel. It makes you question society as a whole, and it even makes you question what you may think and believe without putting you down for thinking it. It questions values and morals while keeping a sense of decency.
Every one of Picoult’s novels is known to have a few certain characteristics. The first: lawyers, a court case, or someone convicted of something. When Colin White sues Mariah White for custody of their daughter Faith, this requirement is more than filled. The second characteristic is a young child or a teenager. Keeping Faith is centered on a young girl who is thrown into the middle of a huge media storm while also being put through the divorce of her parents. The final thing that all of Picoult’s novels include is making you question something. In this case it’s your religious affiliations or background. In other novels, such as My Sister’s Keeper, it may be your moral values on how you treat your children.
Without a doubt Keeping Faith is a gripping read, and you will not want to put it down. It follows the same line as Picoult’s other novels and nearly everyone who has read it has raved about for weeks afterwards. You should definitely invest in this book or other books by Jodi Picoult. Be careful though: She will very quickly become a favourite and you will continuously find yourself grabbing her books off the shelf.