Keeping Faith

Keeping Faith

by Jodi Picoult


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Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

For the second time in her marriage, Mariah White catches her husband with another woman, and Faith, their seven-year-old daughter, witnesses every painful minute. In the aftermath of a sudden divorce, Mariah struggles with depression and Faith begins to confide in an imaginary friend. At first, Mariah dismisses these exchanges as a child's imagination. But when Faith starts reciting passages from the Bible, develops stigmata, and begins to perform miraculous healings, Mariah wonders if her daughter—a girl with no religious background-might actually be seeing God. As word spreads and controversy flares, Mariah and Faith are besieged by believers and disbelievers alike, caught in a media circus that threatens what little stability they have left. Building inexorably to a climactic battle for custody, Keeping Faith explores a family plagued by the media, the medical profession, and organized religion in a world where everyone has an opinion but no one knows the truth. Fascinating, thoughtful, and suspenseful, this extraordinary novel is Jodi Picoult at her best: controversial and compelling.

Author Biography:

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061991547
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/11/2010
Series: P.S. Series
Pages: 422
Sales rank: 847,544
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister's Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.


Hanover, New Hampshire

Date of Birth:

May 19, 1966

Place of Birth:

Nesconset, Long Island, NY


A.B. in Creative Writing, Princeton University; M.A. in Education, Harvard University

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.

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.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Keeping Faith 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 577 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    hannahprescott More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    old_wood More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I loved this book. Shows just how amazing a mother's love is. Very good read.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
    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.

    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.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    After enjoying two of Picoult's other novels, I eagerly began reading Keeping Faith. The first 25 pages were so cliche and trite I almost didn't finish it. I stuck with it, hoping it would get better. It never did. Mariah's storyline was drawn out, repetitive and predictable, and not enough was written from Faith's point of view. Few of Picoult's trademark cliffhangers were written into this excessively long novel.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    to date. I've read it a few times and it is always beautiful. I definitely recommend it!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Couldn't get through it. I liked The Pact. But the first 100 pages were completely predictable. The forshadowing was painful. The character development was shallow. Ugh is all i can say. Moving on.
    Jodi-Picoult-fan More than 1 year ago
    I think that this book is very well put together. Throughout the book, several elements are added and by the end all of them are tied together. I loved the writing style of Jodi Picoult. Not only how she builds the story, but also how she structures sentences.

    The only critisism i have about this book is that sometimes things are drawn out beyond what they need to be, as a poor attempt to cause suspence. For example, in the court room, I think that even though it was an important part of the story it didn't have to be that long.

    I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to read an all around good book. It has several elements to the story and there's always something around the corner that adds a little bit of suprise.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This book captivated me right from the beginning. I read it for several hours straight, and when I could no longer stay awake to continue, I found myself constantly thinking about it throughout the next day. I couldn't wait to get back to it! All of the main characters were compelling, but I was especially drawn to Ian Fletcher, whose true nature is revealed gradually and dramatically as the book progresses. I found myself re-reading the touching scenes several times. An incredibly beautiful story!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I've read many, many novels before...but I must say this is unlike like any other novel I have ever read. The book kept me hooked for days. I simply could not keep my eyes off the book and found myself turning the page to find out what happens next without finishing the context on the current page. Although there were parts that I felt slightly uncomfortable with as a Muslim, I enjoyed the book because its topic was unique and was written in a very sophisticated and sumptuous manner. The ending, I felt, was a little incomplete and slightly confusing...but hey, read the book and decide for yourself. I definitely recommend it.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I finished this book only because I had promised a friend to read it. What torture! It was like reading a romance novel or a script for a 'very special' movie of the week. Contrived, predictable, with characters that had little depth, and a storyline that wasn't well-supported and was full of cliche. Absolutely not the kind of read I would ever want to repeat.
    Anonymous 5 months ago
    This was a very well written novel. You had my attention from the beginning to the end. I didn't want it to end.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Faith is a little girl who is having visions of seeing god. This is another of this authors great books.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Cool story