By Janet Fox
Available now from Speak (Penguin), Review Copy
Billed as a romance, there's a lot more going on in FAITHFUL. Sixteen-year-old Maggie Bennet's largest preoccupation is not Tom Rowland, nor her fiance George Greybull. Instead, she is trying to decide the course of her life after her mother's death and her move to Yellowstone. While Yellowstone still has class divisions, it is much less stratified than Newport, where Maggie was raised. She's beginning to realize that she may have more options than she thought.
Historical fiction is not my favorite, but I wanted to read Janet Fox's YA debut since she's frequented my blog. (Two years later and I'm still excited that people actually read this thing.) I do like how Fox uses the setting of 1904 Montana. She does bring in historical society as well as sensory details.
Maggie makes important connections to other women. Her mother never fit into society, and Maggie was partially isolated by the gossip. But now she's working with Mrs. Gale, a widowed photographer, and trying to be friends with Kula, a servant. She's discovering hidden parts of herself that she likes and others that she's less thrilled by.
I enjoyed Maggie's voice. FAITHFUL starts slowly, as Maggie accepts other's words at face value and allows her father to control her life. But it works, as things begin to move faster once Maggie discovers the pleasure in asserting herself. She's a strong female character even if she couldn't win a fistfight.
History and animal lovers will probably enjoy FAITHFUL. Those sold on the romance between Maggie and Tom might be somewhat disappointed by the percentage of the book devoted to the relationship, but should still be satisfied because it is sweet.