Keeping Faith

( 564 )

Overview

One of America's most powerful and thought-provoking novelists, New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult brilliantly examines belief, miracles, and the complex core of family.

When the marriage of Mariah White and her cheating husband, Colin, turns ugly and disintegrates, their seven-year-old daughter, Faith, is there to witness it all. In the aftermath of a rapid divorce, Mariah falls into a deep depression -- and suddenly Faith, a child with no religious background ...

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Keeping Faith

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Overview

One of America's most powerful and thought-provoking novelists, New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult brilliantly examines belief, miracles, and the complex core of family.

When the marriage of Mariah White and her cheating husband, Colin, turns ugly and disintegrates, their seven-year-old daughter, Faith, is there to witness it all. In the aftermath of a rapid divorce, Mariah falls into a deep depression -- and suddenly Faith, a child with no religious background whatsoever, hears divine voices, starts reciting biblical passages, and develops stigmata. And when the miraculous healings begin, mother and daughter are thrust into the volatile center of controversy and into the heat of a custody battle -- trapped in a mad media circus that threatens what little stability the family has left.

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Editorial Reviews

Detroit Free Press
The Pact is so good that we can't put it down.
Entertainment Weekly
In a small town in New Hampshire something funny happens to a 7-year-old girl when her parents split up: she starts spouting Bible verses and seeing God. Given that the little girl - named, appropriately enough, Faith - hasn't been raised in a religious household, it a little weird. Then inexplicable things begin happening: Faith's grandmother goes into cardiac arrest and is resurrected in perfect health, and Faith starts bleeding from both palms. Soon enough, religious junkies begin flocking to her home, and Faith's horrified father sues for custody. Such a plot could easily fall into the realm of gothic melodrama, but instead it's addictively readable, raising valid questions about religion without getting maudlin. For a novel, that in itself is a miracle.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fans of Picoult's fluent and absorbing storytelling will welcome her new novel, which, like Harvesting the Heart, explores family dynamics and the intricacies of motherhood, and concludes, as did The Pact, with tense courtroom drama. In the small town of New Canaan, N.H., 33-year-old Mariah discovers that her husband, Colin, is having an affair. Years ago, his cheating drove Mariah to attempt suicide and Colin had her briefly committed to an institution. Now Mariah's facing divorce and again fighting depression, when her eight-year-old daughter, Faith, suddenly acquires an imaginary friend. Soon this friend is telling the girl how to bring her grandmother back from the dead and how to cure a baby dying of AIDS. As Faith manifests stigmata, doctors are astounded, and religious controversy ensues, in part because Faith insists that God is a woman. An alarmed Colin sues for custody of Faith, and the fear of losing her daughter dramatically changes meek, diffident Mariah into a strong, protective and brave woman--one who fights for her daughter, holds her own against doctors and lawyers and finds the confidence to pursue a surprising new romance with TV atheist Ian Fletcher, cynical "Spokesman of the Millennium Generation." Though the novel feels a bit long, Picoult's pacing stabilizes the increasingly complicated plot, and the final chapters, in which Mariah fights for Faith's custody in court, are riveting. The mother-daughter relationship is all the more powerful for being buffeted by the exploitative and ethically questionable domains of medicine, media, law and religion; these characters' many triumphant transformations are Picoult's triumphs as well. Agent, Laura Gross. (May)
Library Journal
When seven-year-old Faith White and her mother, Mariah, swing by the house on the way to ballet class, they find that Daddy is home and he's brought a playmate. This is not the first time he's been caught cheating. After the fuss and feathers have settled and Dad has moved out, Faith begins talking to an imaginary friend who, it seems, is God. And God is not male but female. Faith is able to effect miraculous cures and is also occasionally afflicted with stigmata. When the media gets wind of this, the circus begins. The local rabbi takes an interest (Faith and Mariah are technically Jewish), and the local Catholic priest pays several inquiring visits. There is also a gaggle of psychologists. Throw in a professional atheist for the romance angle and a vicious custody fight with an egomaniacal lawyer, and you have a riveting read. Picot (The Pact, LJ 2/15/98) gets better and better with each book. If you can suspend disbelief on one or two points, this is an entrancing novel. Highly recommended.--Dawn L. Anderson, North Richland Hills P.L., TX
Detroit Free Press
The Pact is so good that we can't put it down.
People Magazine
Picoult has the remarkable ability to make us share her characters' feelings.
Deirdre Donahue
Nowadays, the bookshop shelves graon with tales about stylish fol liviing urban lives, simply marinating in glib sophistication, ironic asides and urban angst. But perhaps you're the kind of reader who finds that bicoastal attitude superficial perhaps you crave the sincere and accessible exploration of likes biggest issues such as 'Does God exist?'...This story makes you wonder about God. And that is a rare moment,indeed, in modern fiction.
USA Today
Kirkus Reviews
A sweetly affirmative portrait of mother-daughter love that explores big questions while also providing a riveting narrative of a custody battle.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060878061
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/21/2006
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 633,710
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of seventeen novels, including The Pact, The Tenth Circle, Nineteen Minutes, Change of Heart, Handle with Care, and House Rules. She received the 2003 New England Book Award for fiction and was the recipient of the ALA's Alex Award for her novel My Sister's Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

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    1. Hometown:
      Hanover, New Hampshire
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 19, 1966
    2. Place of Birth:
      Nesconset, Long Island, NY
    1. Education:
      A.B. in Creative Writing, Princeton University; M.A. in Education, Harvard University
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Keeping FaithChapter One

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.
— John Milton, Paradise Lost

There are certain things I do not talk about.

Like when I was thirteen, and I had to take my dog and have her put to sleep. Or the time in high school that I got all dressed up for the prom and sat by the window, waiting for a boy who never came. Or the way I felt when I first met Colin.

Well, I talk a little about that, but I don't admit that from the beginning I knew we were not meant to be together. Colin was a college football star; I'd been hired by his coach to tutor him to pass French. He kissed me- shy, plain, scholarly—on a dare from his teammates, and even muddled by embarrassment, it left me feeling gilded.

It is perfectly clear to me why I fell in love with Colin. But I have never understood what made him fall for me.

He told me that when he was with me, he became someone different-a person he liked better than the easygoing jock, the good ol' fraternity boy. He told me that I made him feel admired for what he was instead of what he'd done. I argued that I wasn't a match for him, not tall or stunning or sophisticated enough. And when he disagreed, I made myself believe him.

I don't talk about what happened five years later, when I was proved right.

I don't talk about the way he could not look me in the eye while he was arranging to have me locked away.

Opening my eyes is a Herculean effort, Swollen and grainy, they seem resolved to stay sealed shut, preferring not to risk the sight of something else that might turn the world on end.But there is a hand on my arm, and for all I know it might be Colin, so I manage to slit them enough that the light, sharp as a splinter, comes into view. "Mariah", my mother soothes, smoothing my hair back from my forehead. "You feeling better?"

"No." I am not feeling anything. Whatever Dr. Johansen prescribed over the phone makes it seem as if there's a foam cushion three inches thick around me, a barrier that moves with me and flexes and manages to keep the worst away.

"Well, it's time to get moving," my mother says, matter-of-fact. She leans forward and tries to haul me from the bed.

"I don't want to take a shower." I try to curl into a ball.

"Neither do I." My mother grunts. The last time she'd come into the room, it was to drag me into the bathroom and under a cold spray of water. "You're going to sit up, damn it, if it sends me to an early grave."

That makes me think of her coffin table, and of the ballet lesson Faith and I never did manage to get to three days ago. I pull away from her grasp and cover my face, fresh tears running like wax. "What is the matter with me?"

"Absolutely nothing, in spite of what that cretin wants you to believe." My mother puts her hands on my burning cheeks. "This is not your fault, Mariah. This isn't something you could have stopped before it happened. Colin isn't worth the ground he walks on." She spits on the carpet, to prove it. "Now sit up so that I can bring Faith in here."

That gets my attention. "She can't see me like this."

"So, change."

"It's not that easy-"

"Yes, it is," my mother insists. "It's not just you this time, Mariah. You want to fall apart? Fine, then-do it after you've seen Faith. You know I'm right, or you wouldn't have called me to come over here and take care of her three days ago." Staring at me, she softens her voice. "She's got an idiot for a father, and she's got you. You make what you want of that."

For a second I let hope sneak through the cracks in my armor. "Did she ask for me?"

My mother hesitates. "No ... but that's neither here nor there." As she goes to get Faith, I adjust the pillows behind my back and wipe my face with a corner of the comforter. My daughter enters the room, propelled by my mother's hand. She stops two feet from the bed. "Hi," I say, bright as any actress.

For a moment I just delight in seeing her—the crooked part of her hair, the space where her front tooth used to be, the chipped pink Tinkerbell polish on her fingernails. She folds her arms and sets her colt's legs and mulishly presses her beautiful bow of a mouth into a flat line.

"Want to sit down?" I pat the mattress beside me.

She doesn't answer; she barely even breathes. With a sharp pain I realize that I know exactly what she's doing, because I've done it myself: You convince yourself that if you keep perfectly still, if you don't make any sudden moves, neither will anyone else. "Faith . .

I reach out my hand, but she turns and walks out of the room.

Part of me wants to follow her, but a larger part of me can't muster the courage. "She's still not talking. Why?"

"You're her mother. You find out."

But I can't. If I have learned anything, it is my own limits. I turn onto my side and close my eyes, hoping that my mother will get the hint that I just want her to go away.

"You'll see," she says quietly, laying her hand on top of my head. "Faith is going to get you through...

Keeping Faith. Copyright © by Jodi Picoult. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary
The White family has just been broken apart by divorce. Seven-year-old Faith finds a friend to see her through - a friend who may or may not be imaginary. What if a little girl with no religious background starts to have talks with God, perform miracles , and develop stigmata? As it builds toward a climactic custody battle, Keeping Faith explores a family beseiged by the media, the medical profession, and organized religion in a world where everyone has an opinion but no one knows the truth.

Topics for Discussion

  • Much is said in the story about Mariah not being a good mother. Do you think this criticism is valid? Does Faith think Mariah is a good mother? Is motherhood truly a "work in progress," as Millie describes it?
  • In the early pages of the first chapter, Mariah describes her marriage as perfect, yet moments after she and Faith discover Colin with another woman, Mariah says, "Oh God, it is happening again." Are there other indications in the story that Mariah refuses to see the truth that is right in front of her?
  • Mariah says, "You can't be a mother, can you, if your child is taken away." As you read, who did you want to win custody of Faith?
  • There are two mother-daughter sets in this book: Faith and Mariah, and Mariah and Millie. Discuss Millie. What are some of the good things Mariah learned from her? Some of the bad things? In the beginning of the story they seem to be very different people. Is this true at the end?
  • Kenzie says: "The issue in this custody hearing is where the best home is for Faith. That doesn't leave a lot of room for God." Do you agree?
  • Did you read the book as fictionor nonfiction?
  • Does the Catholic Church have the right to examine Faith, a Jewish girl?
  • If God were to appear in 1999, would He intervene, or observe?
  • Toward the end of the story, Mariah is tugged across the yard by an exuberant Faith, "following in her daughter's footsteps." Whom did you learn the most from in the story? Who is the main character of the book: Mariah? Faith? God?

    About the Author: Jodi Picoult is the author of The Pact and six other critically acclaimed novels. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, two sons, and daughter.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 564 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(264)

4 Star

(158)

3 Star

(86)

2 Star

(26)

1 Star

(30)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 566 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Faith-belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.

    Controversial topics in life are typically the following: religion, divorce, and even the media, so why is it that Jodi Picoult can take those subjects and write a novel that captures your heart? Basically, she takes the innocence of a child and uses it to portray it in a way that you can't complain about. Keeping Faith will have you wondering about things you never would believe could happen, such as stigmata and a resurrection.

    Faith, by definition, is belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof. Faith, in this story, is a young girl striving for her mother's attention while her parents are in the middle of a messy custody battle. The crazy thing is, while this is going on, Faith starts to see God, and even take on occurrences that happened to the Messiah; she didn't even know who God was until this moment. Media hears about this miraculous little girl and creates frenzy and chaos that her and her family has very little patience to endure. A custody battle, along with the media frenzy, will cause unsuspecting characters to find love, and for the hopes of a young girl to hopefully be fulfilled; she wants the ones she loves to have unrelenting faith in her.

    Jodi Picoult, in this novel, as well as her others, uses techniques that allow you to draw your own conclusion, and keeps you reading page after page until you are exhausted from sleep deprivation. She is also able to take several points of views, and make them your own thoughts, and really get you into character. I believe in her doing this, she really captured the essence of the book. Each main character, Faith, Mariah (Faith's mother), and Ian (televised Atheist), have their own story, and each has relevance to the outcome of the story. Faith, obviously has the most impact on the outcome, a young girl, fighting for attention, suddenly can perform miracles, and is totally oblivious to her doings. Mariah, once suicidal, is in the middle of protecting her daughter from the media, winning the custody battle, and winning the battle of learning to have faith and to trust. Ian is a character that will definitely strike your interest as his story unfolds, his of a child hood you never would have imagined, and his own battle of learning to open up again.
    Although I don't enjoy doing it myself, I loved the fact that Picoult researched every nook and cranny in the book; she made sure that it was as realistic as possible. The court scene, for example, gave me chills, and made me feel as though I was one of the lucky people aloud to observe the trial. I could feel the hurt, the anger, and the deceit in every word and action made.

    In a nut shell, I would definitely recommend this book to everyone out there, young or old, male or female with any religious background, but especially to mothers and daughters; read this together and I can guarantee that your relationship will only grow stronger. While I'm at it, I will also recommend one of Jodi Picoult's other moving novels, Change of Heart, especially if you love the controversial topics discussed in this book.

    35 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fascinating!!

    Mariah White and her seven year old daughter, Faith, return home early one afternoon to find Mariah's husband in the bedroom with another woman. Mariah White, for the second time in their marriage, catches her husband with another woman, (first time she tried to commit suicide). Mariah once again goes into depression and Faith has an imaginary friend. Faith begins quoting the bible and is able to heal people. This brings proclaimed atheist and anti-televangelist, Ian Fletcher, into the mix, determined to discredit Faith and her supposed conversations with God. . Mariah tries to shield her daughter from the attention while trying to find out what is wrong with her. This one, as all of Jodi's books, grabs the heart with both hands.

    20 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2001

    Simply a Gem

    I began this book not knowing what to expect: I hadn't read previous reviews, and I did not read the back cover before I opened it up. I was intrigued by the title and the cover art alone. As I read through it on SuperBowl Sunday, I was touched by the events that mark the milestones of Faith, Millie, Mariah and Ian. Each character was clearly defined, cleverly etched and leapt off the pages into my heart. The bickering between religions, the unflagging support of mother to child, and the honesty with which the author wrote the parent-child conversations touched me to the core. Of particular interest is in the climactic hospital scenes when Mariah's internal diaglogue exposes what every parent prays when their little ones are hurting. A real gem!

    14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2002

    Highly Recommended

    This book was so amazing. As I read it, I felt like I truly knew the characters. This book made me ask questions. It really takes you on an amazing journey. AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2008

    Classic Picoult

    I started reading Picoult backwards. I began with her recent books and then jumped to her oldest ones. I'm not a fan of the older ones as much, so after reading two of her oldest books, I almost didn't read this one. To top it off, I can't stand religion. I don't practice, and I'm not a believer, so I was like BLECH about the topic. However, I absolutely could not put it down!!! Granted, it was still hard not to skim through some of the more detailed religious parts, but I learned a lot and it definitely made me think and wonder. I fell in love with Mariah and Ian as they fell in love with each other. As usual, Picoult takes a controversial issue...a couple, actually...and spins it so that you're not sure what you believe anymore. I also love Picoult's wording. Always so beautiful. Finally, one of my favorite things about this book are the twists and revelations. To me, that's classic Picoult. I love knowing that little by little, she'll dole out a bit more of the mystery. I'm not sure what I think about the ending. I'll have to make my sister read it so that we can discuss.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2000

    Wonderful

    I wouldn't normally pick up a book focusing religion, but Picout's novel touches on so many subjects familiar to all of us -- family, religion, our dreams, our downfalls -- that it brings the subject to a comfortable place to be contemplated. Picout creates characters that are believable in a story that leaves the reader yearning for each new chapter. I honestly couldn't put it down.. and I haven't felt that way about a book in a long time.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2013

    Wow

    I did not know to expect when I purchased this book. I have read most of Picoult's books and there are a few I did not really enjoy. I can not say I enjoyed this book, nor can I say I was entertained by it. It was more like being mesmerized. I could not put it down. I had to know what happened next. I read this book in one six hour setting, stopping only when I had to take care of other matters. As the book unfolded, I wondered what I would do in each situation. I believe in God and in miracles, I do not know if the events in this book are possible. I would like to think they are. One reviewer wrote the vulgar langauge offended her, I did read not read any curse words, but God's name was used in an irreverant manner sometimes, such as someone would use, dang or alas. There was some mild, unmarried sex, not very graphic. This book was very well written and edited. It made me think and wonder. There is no murder or violence. There is infidelity and psychological manlipuation. The characters were great and seemed very real for the most part. It was well worth the money. It is 460 pages long. I would recommend this book for adult readers, with an open mind, looking for something different to read.

    AD

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Not Piccoult's best work

    originally written in 1999, this early book from Jodi Piccoult is defintely not her best work. She had yet to mature as a writer and is still finding her way with character and plot. While still an interesting page turner, I have found it to be lacking in surprise with some rather two dimensional characters. But I am still reading it and there may be some more surprises in the end. She is still one of my favorite writers. This certainly does not pack the punch of her later works The Pact, My Sister's Keeper, or Nineteen Minutes.

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    one of my favorites

    I love Jodi Picoult and, although I have only read three going on four of her books, this still remains my favorite. The plot of this book is one of the most origional I have ever read. I could not put this book down when I was reading it. I believe that the best books are the ones that make you think, make you question things, and keep you entertained. This book did all of those things and more. I don't care about all of the other people reviewing this who said they could "barely get through it". They do't know good literature, this book is eye-opening and inspiring.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2007

    Mother God? Father God?

    Mariah, Colin, and Faith White have pretty normal lives, or it seems that way. Colin ans Mariah are married and Faith is their daughter. Mariah and Faith come home early one day only to find Colin in bed with another woman. Faith instantly thinks it¿s her fault because she¿s his daughter. Mariah and Colin get divorced. Soon after, Faith starts talking to an ¿imaginary friend¿ who she says is God. She says that God is a female. Soon the story gets around. It attracted a lot of reporters and journalists. Colin, at the time, had no idea what was going on until one night he turned on the television and saw a reporter standing on the driveway that was once his. After learning about everything that had been going on with Faith, he hired a lawyer to get him custody of Faith. He didn¿t think she was safe with Mariah. They went to court and reviewed many incidents: when Mariah¿s mother was resurrected, Faith checking into the hospital, and the injuries to her body that might have been stigmata. Everything is making Mariah look like a bad parent, but is she really? Who will get custody of Faith? I didn¿t really like how the book went from person to person in the chapters. It was kind of confusing at times but I liked the book a lot. Most of it was really good. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes suspense and mystery. You never really know what¿s going to happen next, and it keep you wondering. It¿s a book you don¿t ever want to put down until you¿ve found out what happens. I believe this is my favorite book by Jodi Picoult.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Jennifer Wardrip - Personal Read

    Although I tolerated this Picoult title better than THE TENTH CIRCLE, it was another one that I could have lived without. I just never connected to the characters, and couldn't get involved in the story like I did with MY SISTER'S KEEPER and NINETEEN MINUTES.<BR/><BR/>I know others have read this book and loved it, and I totally appreciate their opinions! For me, though, this one just wasn't a winner.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2008

    I was left going 'huh?'

    I read this book for an online bookclub and was really excited about the subject-matter. However, the further I got into the book the more confused I became. I never felt like I really connected with the characters, other than Ian Fletcher. Loved him! Mariah got on my nerves and I never felt like I knew Faith at all. I was hoping 'God' would be an actual character, too, but 'she' was more of a mystery thru-out the book. Not only that, I never really understood the purpose for Faith's stigmata. I kept hoping the author would tie it all together in the end, but instead I was left going huh? I even read the last page twice trying to figure out the meaning. I just totally didn't get it. I don't like books that leave me hanging. I will probably never read another Jodi Picoult book. I prefer historical fiction anyway. Perhaps her other books are better, but this one was a huge disappointment.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2013

    Recommend

    If you like Jodi Picoult book, this is another good one, I'm not much of a reviewer but the story kept you interested and looking forward to the next chapter with family relations, children and love. Worth the time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    Great read

    I loved this book. Shows just how amazing a mother's love is. Very good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    Nothing shiwed Nothing showed

    Big letdown

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Nothing showed up!

    Excited to read it but i have nothing but blank pages.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    Good book!

    Started a bit slow and I wasn't sure I would like it. I was pleasantly surprised! This turned out to be a very good book. The author keeps you guessing on who is good, bad, lying, crazy, sane, honest, or a combination of any of the above.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    My absolute favorite Picoult novel

    to date. I've read it a few times and it is always beautiful. I definitely recommend it!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    Title confusing

    I started reading it because I thought it was a christian book, the title is misleading. Had I know what the story was about I would not have read it. It just wasn't my type of book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2011

    WAS JUST OK NOT MY CUP OF TEA

    I HAVE READ MOST OF MS PICOULT BOOKS BUT THIS ONE WAS FAR OUT THERE. I TO HAD TO KEEP GOING BACK TO RE READ SOME CHAPTERS WAS JUST A LITTLE TO CONFUSING FOR ME. I LIKE A PAGE TURNER & I DON'T THINK THIS WAS ONE OF THEM. SORRY BUT I LOVE TO READ & THIS WAS NOT THAT GREAT IN MY EYES.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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