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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review: Good Faith by Liz Crowe

Format: Print (gift)
Release Date: November 14, 2013

Strong personalities—volatile marriages—stressful careers—conflicting goals—difficult children.

Contemporary challenges facing close-knit families form the crucible that forges a new generation.

Brandis, Gabriel, Blair and Lillian emerge from the entanglement of their parents’ longstanding emotional connections, but one’s star will burn brighter – and hotter – than the others.

With a personality that consumes everyone and everything in its path, Brandis Gordon struggles to maintain control as he ricochets between wild success and miserable failure. His life proves how even the strongest relationships can be strangled by the ties that bind.

Brandis and Gabe Frietag are as close as any brothers, bound by both loyalty and fierce rivalry. The strength of their ultimate alliance is tested time and again by Brandis’ choices.

Companions from birth, Blair Frietag and Lillian Robinson share loner tendencies, but come to rely on each other through adolescence. As they mature, both are forced to confront their feelings for the men they knew as boys.

Somewhere between the tangle of good memories and bad, independence and addiction, optimism and despair, the intertwined destinies of the new generation finally collide, leaving some stronger, others broken, but none unscathed.

As a chronicle of three families navigating the minefields of teen years into the turbulence of young adulthood, Good Faith holds up a literary mirror to contemporary life with joys and temptations unflinchingly reflected. Its fresh, real-life voice portrays the sheer volatility of human nature, complete with the hopes, dreams, and unexpected setbacks of marriage, parenthood and “coming of age.”

I actually finished reading Good Faith over a month ago. Yes you read that right, a month ago.

So why, you might be asking, did it take me so long to write a review?

Because this book tied me up in knots. It left me so emotional that I didn't want that to cloud my judgement over what I really thought about this book. Let me warn you now that if you're looking for a sugar coated fantasy, this is not your book! Good Faith is fiction heavily based in reality. That means the good, the bad and the ugly so consider yourself warned!

I have reviewed many of author Liz Crowe's books in the past and have thoroughly enjoyed each one for what they are not what others want them to be. It's a thought process that has served me well and has allowed me to really immerse myself in each story Liz has written.

Good Faith was in short: Emotionally satisfying and mentally draining.

There is just so much that happens in Good Faith that I am afraid of giving something away that I shouldn't. That was another aspect that kept me from writing this review until now. How do I talk about a book I loved without really talking about what happens in it?

This is technically the last book in Crowe's popular Stewart Realty series and she went out with a bang! Not only revisiting with the large, boisterous, loving clan made up of three families but taking their children on one hell of a ride into adulthood.

Good Faith isn't a short book, it's long, the story spanning a few years and taking the reader on the unpredictable, dangerous and damaging journey of an addict. From the "first time" all the way through the relapses, the fights, the pain and the devastation that both addicts and the people who love them face. There's nothing Liz Crowe won't put her characters through and she does it with such a passion that I couldn't help but feel whatever her characters were going through. It's intense and frustrating at the same time but totally addictive.

While this book is part of a series, Good Faith is quite different in voice than its predecessors. As someone who had read all but one of the books in the Stewart Realty series, I can say that I noticed right away that Good Faith is more descriptive, more explanatory than the other books in the series. Perhaps to give new readers a refresher on who's who so that they don't get lost among all the characters. It took some getting used to but I did enjoy not having to stop and rack my brain for details from previous books that would explain current events in Good Faith but I can also see where that could frustrate other longtime fans who didn't want/need the refresher course.

The complex relationships of the families involved in Good Faith can make your head spin but it's no less than what most of us experience in our own lives. Their dynamic has certainly changed over the years so as a whole, there's a lot of character growth here and it shows in the way the characters interact with each other. I couldn't let go of them and even as I had to put the book down to eat and sleep (sometimes) my mind kept going back to the story and wondering what was going to happen next.

While some people may take issue with the ending, I did not. It was bittersweet to see this series and its main couple, Jack and Sara, come full circle. It was a fitting conclusion and couldn't have imagined a better way for them to go out.

Final Verdict: In typical Liz fashion, Good Faith made me laugh, cry, rant, rage and forgive and while I would not incorporate a steady diet of these particular types of books into my reading, I will always make room and time for Liz Crowe's always emotional, sometimes controversial and never forgetable books. However, sensitive readers beware, like I said before, there is nothing Liz won't discuss or put her characters through and controversy is almost synonymous with her books.

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