Little Faith

Ecco: HarperCollins. Mar. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9780062469717. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062469731. F
OrangeReviewStarLyle and Peg Hovde are a humble, salt-of-the-earth couple from rural Wisconsin who lost their son, Peter, when he was nine months old. This catastrophic event is still keenly felt decades later, when the action of this powerful novel begins. In the intervening years, they have adopted a young daughter, Shiloh, and raising her has proved extremely difficult. The willful and reckless Shiloh is now a mom herself and involved with an extremist church and its charismatic pastor. In the middle of it all is the vulnerable, innocent, five-year-old Isaac, Lyle and Peg's grandson, whom they adore. Shiloh has moved back home, but she is soon in bitter conflict with her parents, and the narrative traces the tragic arc of their discord. Butler (The Hearts of Men) skillfully handles the complicated—and heartbreaking—psychological and emotional complexities of this story, crafting a deeply moving novel about love, faith, and loss, and how the futures we imagine for ourselves as parents can be agonizingly different from the actual reality.
VERDICT A beautifully realized meditation on the nature of parenting and living in a perplexing (and often cruel) world. Enthusiastically recommended for parents and fans of literary fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 9/17/18.]
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