Faith by Jennifer Haigh

[Caveat: I’m trying to make good on my New Year’s Resolution and get caught up to speed on this blog. That means I’m writing about books I read months ago, my memory might be spotty, and I’m just going to jot down a few sentences.]

I debated about including this on my top books of the year because I really liked it a lot.  I think Haigh is an amazing writer-she pulls you in and just creates these stories with people who are flawed and make mistakes and she is just very compelling.  I read this shortly after reading Maine and so the two are somewhat intertwined in my mind-both deal with religious, Catholic families, alcoholics, faith, and family secrets. (or, as I kept saying, “angry drunks with secrets.”)  In this particular story I found it continuously heartbreaking-a good man, a devout priest, has been accused of inappropriate conduct with a young boy.  The boy is someone he has been close to, in fact a good influence in his life. The priest is not given the benefit of the doubt by really anyone, and yet the accuser is so patently manipulative.  Haigh provides some varying points of view (I think? looking back here…) and she does a good job of showing you how people’s faith in his innocence shaken.

It’s not an especially uplifting story, but then I don’t think of any of hers are.  It’s a story that stays with you and, like I said, I truly found it heartbreaking and was amazed by the power of hurtful secrets and behaviors.

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