Title: Losing Faith
Author: Denise Jaden
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: 2009
Price: $9.99 (paperback)
Interest Age: 14 and up
Lexile Level: 700
Annotation: Full of questions and struggling with the loss of her sister, Brie decides to look into her final night alive.
Plot Summary: Brie’s family is broken when her older sister, Faith, dies by falling off a cliff. Faith was always the good sister with her songbird voice and devout Christian faith. Her parents drift apart, each absorbed in their own grief. Left alone by the parents, Brie does not want to weep, she’s angry at the world and she wants answers to the last moments of Faith’s life. Together with new friends Tess and Alis, Brie starts digging into her sister’s life.
Critical Evaluation: Overall, Losing Faith is a story about death, the people left behind and how they grieve. The thread that connects most of the character is their loss of a love one and how each person has a unique way of dealing with the pain. Jaden adds a twist to the story with Brie’s investigation on the mysterious death of her sister, Faith. What shines in this story is how Jaden approaches the themes of death, grief and faith. Through the different families, Jaden reveals how the death of a love one can tear apart a family. In Tessa family, her mother left because her father could not move on. Brie’s father buries himself in work, while her mom loses faith in religion and closes herself off. Both become overprotective of Brie, yet ignoring Brie’s longing for comfort. Alis’ father spend long periods of time on the road and his sister finds salvation in religion. Also using the different character, Jaden displays different ideas of faith. How faith can be a balm of the living and how faith can sometimes go too far.
What needs polishing is the mystery element of the story and some of the relationships between characters. Why would Alis tell Brie (who he just met) all about his crazy sister, especially if it might implicate her in Faith’s death? Especially since she’s all he has since his father never there. It was a little too unrealistic for me. And the mystery plot needed some work. The climax where everything was revealed seemed rushed and forced. I didn’t think there was enough of a established foundation to have to cult thing thrown in so late and I don’t know if I missed it, but how did someone with Faith’s strong testament in her religion get involved in something like that? I just think that the mystery needed some tighter plotting. Losing Faith was a good distracting read and has its good parts, but there was nothing extraordinary about it. It could have been great with stronger characters, a tighter mystery and a more tied up plot. To sum up, I liked it, but with reservations.
Author Bio: Denise Jaden lives just outside Vancouver, Canada. When she s not writing, she can often be found homeschooling her son or dancing with her Polynesian dance troupe. “Losing Faith “was her first novel. Find out more at denisejaden.com or follow her on Twitter at @denisejaden.
Tie to Curriculum Units: N/A
Booktalking Ideas: Christian faith, death, cults, sisters
Challenge Issues: A finalist in INSPYs Blogger Award for Faith-Driven Literature, Losing Faith can be a powerful book to teens coping with loss and grief. Additionally, the book’s portrayal of diverse perspectives on faith adds variety to the collection.