A Matter of Faith by Kristy Kiernan
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (August 5, 2008)
This was the book club selection for the November Lunch Bunch Book Club at the Mercer Public Library. The author is a cousin to on of the librarians.
This book starts out simple enough, but soon the characters come face to face with a horrifying tragedy that will change the course of their lives. The Tobias family appears to be the typically American family on the outside, but underneath all the show, Cal and Chloe are struggling with a stagnated marriage, 18 year old Marshall is off at college dealing with aspects of his past, and 12 year old Meghan is coping with life-threatening allergies.
As the book starts out, Marshall is coming home for spring break and he is bringing his new girlfriend - Ada - with him. Although Marshal has been searching for the "right" religion since the death of a friend years earlier, Ada is on the opposite end of the spectrum, almost to the point of being a zealot. Her family lives in a communion and they do not believe in medical treatments for illness or injuries.
On a simple day trip out into the Gulf of Mexico, Ada decides to "cure" Meghan of her allergies by exposing her to peanut butter mixed into a cookie. As you can imagine, the results were disastrous and devastating.
While Meghan is fighting for her life while in a coma, Cal is raging at his son and the girlfriend, while Chloe tries to hold the family together. When Marshal and Ada are arrested and charged with child abuse, they make a life altering decision. While out on bail, they flee to the home of Cal's mother - the mother Cal has been running from all his adult life.
This story is raw and heartwrenching and gives an accurate picture of a family dealing with crisis. You can feel the pain each family member is going through. It is a powerful book and one that will make you look at your life differently. I highly recommend A Matter of Faith, and I will be checking out Kiernan's first book, Catching Genius.