Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Review: Losing Faith by Denise Jaden

Brie and her sister Faith have not been close in awhile, so when Faith dies under mysterious circumstances, Brie is not sure how she should feel. In order to gain closure, Brie starts investigating Faith’s death and uncovers some shocking secrets.


Yesterday after I finished reading this, I tweeted: “If more contemporary YA was like LOSING FAITH, I’d read more of it.”

Contemporary YA doesn’t make up a lot of my reading. Mostly because I tend to be drawn to high-concept premises, but also because contemp YA novels seem to be so focused on high school drama or the high school experience. This of course CAN be done well (see Courtney Summers’ novels) but just gets so tiring after awhile.

LOSING FAITH is about a girl in high school, but it’s not ABOUT high school, and that already endeared it to me considerably. Brie is a realistic mix of self-absorbed and self-aware – clueless about what her ultra-religious sister is up to, but savvy about her precarious place in the social order. Faith’s demise alienates Brie from her peers, but Jaden wisely skimps on the pity party to really delve into Brie’s feelings about her complicated relationship with her sister.

While Brie’s parents are sidelined with grief, Brie finally picks up some clues that Faith’s church life was not what it seemed, and gets help in her sleuthing from an unlikely source – tough girl Tessa.

Tessa had quite the outlandish back story, but somehow came off as one of the more believable characters of the bunch. (If I have to get nitpicky, I’d say homeschooled love interest Alis(stair) was perhaps too sweet to be real while his sister Reena felt exaggerated at times.)

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that this is a fast paced mystery read, because it isn’t. Jaden often takes her sweet time to get from one plot point to another, and it takes a looong time for any cult activity to be uncovered (and cults are what originally sold me on this story, so I was looking for them.) But once I settled into the novel’s rhythms, I was undeniably entertained.

LOSING FAITH is available in paperback now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

16 comments:

Jenny said...

I'm glad to hear this is good! I've been wanting to read it since I saw it on the contemps challenge... I'll definitely have to get to it.

Liviania said...

I enjoyed this one too. I agree with you completely that the skipping of the pity party was a good move.

Sandy Shin said...

I saw your tweet yesterday, and was very curious. So I'm glad to read this review today. I also don't read many contemporary YA, but will have to try this out. :)

Dwayne said...

It's so very hard to decide if I really want to read this or not!

Natalie (Mindful Musings) said...

I have this one in my review pile, so I'll read it eventually either way. I'm kind of glad I didn't have to make a decision on whether or not to pick this one up, because it seems the reviews on it are right down the middle. Some like it, and some just don't. I'm interested to read it for myself and see what I think. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Lenore said...

Natalie - I haven't seen many reviews for it, so didn't realize there are people not enjoying it. Well, everyone likes different things!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I haven't really read that many reviews of it either. Glad you enjoyed it though, I love Denise. I have this one in my TBR as well.

-Lauren

bermudaonion said...

Ooh, I bet I'd like this one - I love to read about cults for some reason.

Amy said...

I'm really glad to see you liked this - I did as well. And you are right, Tessa's story was so unbelievable, but yet, she was so believable :)

Zibilee said...

I also love to read about cults, so this book sounds rather interesting to me. I am going to be putting this one on my list and checking it out soon. Thanks, Lenore!

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Okay, I might give this one a chance after all! I've been less and less into contemporary YA because of all that high school drama you mentioned, but if you say this one is good, I trust you. Great review!

Patty said...

I have this one and now cannot wait to get to it...

Shelley said...

My writing is not about high school stresses, but I agree with you: it's such an awful place in some ways, that if I were still there, I'd rather read a book set anywhere else!

Erica said...

I can't wait to read this one. It's soon on my TBR pile, it looks fantastic.

Willa said...

Will have a look at it. It sounds good. Have you read Stolen by Lucy Christopher? It is one of the books that revived my faith in YA.

Memory said...

I usually steer clear of contemporary YA for the same reasons, but this one sounds good. Thanks for the review!