Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
Published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon and Schuster
Brie’s older sister, Faith, has just died in a freak accident, leaving Brie devastated and grieving for the sister she wasn’t close to and didn’t really understand. Brie’s parents are deep in their own grief, and therefore completely unable to support her emotionally, and her boyfriend has betrayed her at the worst possible time. To distract herself from her pain, Brie decides to investigate Faith’s death, and what she finds shocks and terrifies her – Faith was involved with a dangerous cult, a cult that now wants Brie to be its newest member.
Losing Faith is a perfect example of a Christian fiction novel that is more edgy/general market, and therefore (I think) appealing to both audiences. I personally enjoy these kinds of novels immensely, as the characters tend to be realistic Christians, instead of caricatures or perfect people. That was definitely the case in this book – Brie isn’t exactly a model Christian; in fact she’s not sure that she’d even consider herself a Christian at all. Faith, on the other hand, is by all appearances a perfect Christian girl, but underneath the surface her faith isn’t so perfect.
There were many things about Losing Faith that lend itself to recommendation. As I said, the characters seem real and, in the case of Brie especially, there is a true faith journey happening here. By that I mean that her faith in God truly changes as the novel progresses, ultimately coming to her own understanding of what God is and what He means to her personally. As for Faith, she’s only a character in the other characters’ memories, but her faith journey is quite different. She goes from being a normal Christian girl to someone who we learn has become a pivotal member of a cult. Her journey was much sadder than Brie’s because ultimately the reader knows where the journey takes her, but it’s still a faith journey all the same.
The idea of the cult seemed a bit far-fetched to me, but I suppose that these things do exist in the real world. While Jaden made the cult itself fairly believable, when I finished the book I was still left trying to understand how Faith got mixed up with it in the first place. Oh, well. One complaint in an otherwise very solid book isn’t much to be upset about.
What is excellent about this book is the ominous feel it contains, and the fact that the reader doesn’t truly have a full grasp of what Faith was dealing with until the very end of the book, when Brie finally understands. The pacing is spot-on – I was frantically turning pages, desperate to get answers as quickly as possible.
Overall, I really enjoyed Losing Faith. It’s a nice example of a Christian fiction/general market YA fiction crossover, the characters are well-written and believable, and the story itself is one that will grab any reader from the first page. Although it’s faith-based, I would recommend it mostly for older teens because the subject matter can be a bit intense at times. But still – definitely recommended!