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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Faith, Family and Forgiveness

Jennifer Haigh's newest novel Faith is a compelling novel that delves into the lives of the McGanns, a devout Irish Catholic family living in Boston whose faith in both their religion and each other is called into question during the Catholic Church scandal.  In 2002, members of the McGann family each day read of more and more priests accused of the horrible crime of molesting children and revelations surface that church hierarchy had been covering up the behavior of these priests.  Despite the newspaper headlines, the McGann family is shocked when their brother, Father Arthur, is accused of inappropriate behavior with the grandson of the church's housekeeper.   But this story is much more than just a novel about pedophile priests and irresponsible bishops and cardinals.  Instead, it is a much deeper story about family and the ties that bind us and our loyalty to those we love.   It is told from the perspective of Sheila McGann, the half sister to the accused priest who returns home to Boston to defend his brother and to find out what is the truth behind the accusations.  His half brother has already declared him guilty without even speaking to him while his mother is in total self denial, not believing that there is even a slight possibility that her favorite son could be guilty.

The story is complicated, a lot of shades of gray, and there are many hidden family secrets that surface to help the readers understand the motivations of these complex characters. The book is suspenseful--even the reader does not know whether Father Arthur is guilty or not until the end.  This family's lack of communication has contributed to the secrecy and the dysfunction of this blended family.  The characters are very interesting and the writing is well done. I have read one of Haigh's previous novel and enjoyed it but this one really stands out.  I plan to pick up her other two.  If you enjoy books with strong character development and a hint of mystery, you'll be glad you read this newest release of Haigh's.

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