Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
Simon Pulse, 377 pages
A terrible secret. A terrible fate.
When Brie’s sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie’s world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.
As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don’t line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night…a secret that puts her own life in danger.
My first impression on Losing Faith before I read the book’s summary is it’s a paranormal romance novel. Which, based on my current reading preferences, is something I
kind of avoid. It wasn’t until I was going through the YA Contemps releases for 2010 that I found out it was not paranormal romance. When I found out it was a NaNoWriMo novel, it kind of cinched the deal for me and I got a copy of the book.
Losing Faith is a word play on the inciting incident in the book, when Brie’s older sister Faith dies from a freak accident. Her good, church-going sister is just gone and Brie struggles to deal with her grief and to adjust to the abrupt change while her parents cope on their own — her mom hides in her room while his dad focuses more on his sales jobs than in consoling and holding their family together. Until Brie finds out something strange about her sister’s death — some things don’t add up, and she starts wondering if Faith’s accident is more than what it seems. Together with her new friends, Brie investigates, and finds out something dark about her sister that she never knew she could be involved in.
The thing that really stands out in Losing Faith is the introduction of a really creepy cult, something quite new in contemporary YA. Growing up as a church kid, I was easily immersed in Brie’s world, and the familiar terms like worship, youth group and all that were things I could easily understand. I think it may have made the cult factor scarier for me too, because even if I don’t really know some religious fanatics, I know how easy it is for one to box themselves inside church and judge even the other people around them. I remember having to close this book when it came to the parts when Brie was snooping around because it got just a bit too creepy for me. I think Denise Jaden did a good job with that without being disrespectful or putting church-goers in a bad light. I also liked how she wrapped it up in the end, with how Brie and her friends chose to deal with the aftermath of their discoveries.
What didn’t really shine for me in this book is its tone. I don’t know, maybe I was expecting something like Sara Zarr’s Once Was Lost, which was also about church and was haunting and emotional. I didn’t really feel any connection with Brie. I know nothing about losing a sibling, but I felt that her grief wasn’t portrayed as much as it should, except maybe when they were having the service for Faith. I wasn’t a fan of how Brie’s plans were labeled in headers at different parts of the book, which kind of felt like awkward chapter starts or scene changes. I realize now that it gave the book a NaNoWriMo feel, which isn’t necessarily bad. I guess I was just expecting it to have a different tone.
Losing Faith was just okay. I liked the overall storyline, but it didn’t really rock my worlds as I thought it would. Nevertheless, I still liked it, and I think it was able to address religion and cults in a very good way. I think I’m going to put Denise Jaden’s future works in my radar. I’m curious to see what she comes up with next. :)
My copy: paperback bought from Fully Booked
Cover & blurb: Goodreads