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Matters of Faith
Date of Review: 
Aug.01.2008
Published Work: 
Reviewer: 
Kristine Huntley
Source: 
ALA Booklist

Kiernan's stunning second novel explores how one family reacts to a devastating tragedy. Cal and Chloe Tobias have two children: 18-year-old Marshall, who witnessed the death of his best friend in childhood and has been exploring religion ever since, and his younger sister, Meghan, who suffers from severe food allergies. Marshall comes home from college for spring break with his girlfriend, Ada, a religious zealot who doesn't believe in medical treatment, in tow.

Ada immediately expresses doubts about Meghan's allergies, and when she and Marshall try to "cure" Meghan by exposing her to the very thing she's most allergic to, the results are disastrous. As Meghan lies in a coma in the hospital, Cal's rage at his son boils over, and the district attorney decides to charge both Marshall and Ada with child abuse.

Marshall and Ada choose to flee to Cal's estranged mother, leaving Cal and Chloe to face the rift growing between them over Marshall's actions. Unforgettable and moving, Kiernan's novel is an achingly real portrait of a family in crisis, one readers will react to passionately.

--Kristine Huntley.