November Book of the Month: Faithful by Alice Hoffman

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Since the November theme of the month is Self-Knowledge, we wanted to introduce you to a character who took her time to learn and develop her true self-awareness and overcome a lot of shit to get there. You will cry. You will appreciate your family and friends more. (#gratitudemonth). Plus, the book is easy to read in a post-turkey haze. 

Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl growing up on Long Island until one night, a horrible tragedy changes her fate. In an instant, her best friend's future is taken away, and Shelby walks with a burden of guilt. A story of self-awareness, self-rescue, and humanity from a deeply flawed, but real heroine. 

Union Square

Union Square

TOC Book Club Questions To Consider

1. Why do you think the book is called Faithful? In which ways do the characters in the novel show faith? 

2. At what point does Shelby regain her hope and faith? 

3. If you could give this book another title, what would it be? 

4. Describe the different ways the characters embody the roles of "caretaking" in the book? 

5. In what way is Shelby's relationship with Ben healthy? How is it unhealthy? 

6. In the first chapter, Shelby says, “I believe in tragedy . . . not miracles” (page 11). Do you think her opinion changes at the end of the novel? 

7. Why do you think Shelby kept away from Helene for so long? What changes her mind at the end of the novel? 

8. Do you think Shelby's relationship with James is realistic? 

9. Which one of Shelby's boyfriends had the most impact on her in her life, both positive and negative? 

Additional Resources

  • We start the novel with lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”: “Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.” Listen to the song. 
  • If you don't live in the city, explore Union Square on Google Maps. Also: Strand Book Store, the Half King, Union Square, the Hudson River.

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