By Denise Jaden
Available now from Simon Pulse
Watch the book trailer at The Contemps
Many shades of intense, in fact.
The beginning is intense due to death. Sudden, violent death. How do you deal when your sister dies? You don't, not really. And the only person reaching out to Brie is her locker neighbor, gothy Tessa Lockbaum. Not her idea of a good friend.
Then the book becomes intense due to the mystery - who is Reena M. Black? (Not to mention, who was the cute boy at Faith's grave?) Brie's sister Faith clearly spent a lot of time with her before her death, which doesn't necessarily mean anything bad. Reena just seems kind of cracked.
The plot of LOSING FAITH isn't new. Someone dies, partially revealing their secrets. Those left behind try to uncover the truth. Denise Jaden pulls it off well. Part of that is Brie's voice, which is confident and self-aware - she knows where her weaknesses lie - but she still has her uncertainties, like any teenager under stress.
Plus, the plot is common for a reason. Those who love us are easy to lie to because they don't expect the lies. You just assume you know a lot about someone you live with. It was a nice change of pace to discover that while Faith had secrets, they weren't bad secrets. Brie thought her sister was a good person and she was.
Tessa is also a treat. I was friends with a lot of the 'scary Goth' kids and high school and thus know that most of them are perfectly nice people. Tessa has her edges, but she's smart, strong, and compassionate (aka the kind of friend everybody could use, going through a crisis or not).
I expected to cry during LOSING FAITH, what with the whole dead sister thing, but I didn't. Jaden didn't go after my heartstrings. Brie's relationship with her sister was difficult, and she's really stuck on trying to figure out what she should feel. She's also trying to figure out how to pull her life back together, especially with her parents mourning in their own ways. While they should be allowed their grief, Brie needs her parents and doesn't know how to tell them so without sounding like an evil brat.
Therefore, intense. LOSING FAITH is emotional, but the emotions aren't simple. There's also a lot of plot going around. The cast is fairly large, to the point that a core character doesn't show up in the first hundred pages. But the story never lags. At the same time, LOSING FAITH isn't fast paced. It's smooth and flowing, though there are bursts of excitement.
It's not a navel-gazing novel, but Brie is the focus, not her actions. And despite my frequent assertions of intense, I found LOSING FAITH to be soothing.