Losing Faith by Denise JadenLosing Faith by Denise Jaden

Losing Faith

byDenise Jaden

Paperback | September 7, 2010

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A terrible secret. A terrible fate.

When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.

As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.
Denise Jaden has written fiction for young adults and nonfiction for writers. Her works include Losing Faith, Never Enough, Writing with a Heavy Heart: Using Grief and Loss to Stretch Your Fiction, and Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First Draft Novel in Thirty Days.
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Title:Losing FaithFormat:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:September 7, 2010Publisher:Simon PulseLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1416996095

ISBN - 13:9781416996095

Appropriate for ages: 14

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Such a great contemporary read You?re taken on a ride through these sister?s lives and you can?t help but hang on. Emotions are unraveled, people are betrayed, secrets are exposed. It was ultimately an emotional roller coaster. I had no idea what this book held until I delved into it. That?s what you get for reading a description where the whole plot is not summarized. A good thing too because the book runs hot and cold. Or rather the characters do. How sad I felt to be placed in both Loann?s and Clare?s shoes. Their relationship is problematic at best. They love each other but also argue like sisters do. Loann seems to constantly get mad at her sister then forgive her just as quickly. How awful it must be to be full of that much emotion. I can?t help but feel pity for both of these characters. There?s so much baggage these two go through. If only they trusted in each other then things could be different. There s a lot of issues underlying these two, mostly jealousy as pointed out in the description. Love blooms out of friendship in this one, and I can?t help but love that. No instalove here! It?s quite refreshing to not fall head over heels in love with the first cute boy the character sees. Denise writes well and must have done quite a lot of research to figure out what it means to be a teenager with an eating disorder or so I thought! In the end, if you read her little note, she has battled with an eating disorder and I can?t help but feel so proud of her to overcome the disease. Kudos for writing this novel well. There?s always help to be found, and I?m glad this issue is addressed in this book.
Date published: 2014-11-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Helpful, sort of generic This book has some good tips for the elements of a successful story including character, structure, scene framing etc. I don't know if it's necessarily a book specific to outlining, though, since the basic gist seems to be ''You should totally outline. Here are the elements of a good story, so put them in your outline!" In a book dedicated to outlines I expected more technical discussions of structure, not to mention techniques for the outline itself. (Also, Weiland and I disagree on terminology--what she calls her outline I call raw notes, or working out the story, or freewriting. What she calls the Abbreviated Outline is, for me, the outline--a reference document I can actually use in the writing process.) Overall the book felt more like a general writing advice book with an emphasis on outlines rather than an exhaustive how-to for outlining. Still made some good points and gave interesting tips, though, and I'm glad I read it.
Date published: 2014-07-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Never one for outlining Great book just a little long lol!
Date published: 2013-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I couldn't put it down! It's gut-wrenching, so keep the Kleenex handy! I received this Advance Reviewer Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own. Wow! I feel emotionally spent! The Contemporary Young Adult genre is not one that I normally read. However, when I read the synopsis, I was immediately drawn to the heavy themes of the book. Never Enough is narrated in the first-person by Loann Rochester, a high school junior. She has been eclipsed her entire life by her older, beautiful sister, Claire, who is a high school senior. Claire is Miss Popularity, hanging out with the "in" crowd, while her sister feels dumpy with her curly, frizzy hair and chubby tummy and thighs. When her two best girlfriends, Shayleen and Deirdre, turn on her, Loann feels suddenly alone. She makes friends with a boy named Marcus, who is a bit of a loner and constantly picked on by the jocks. They develop a great rapport, and Loann wonders whether Marcus is developing feelings for her in the same way that she is for him. Loann has always had a school-girl crush on Claire's boyfriend, Josh, who happens to be one of the guys in the jocks crowd. After Claire and Josh break up, Josh puts the moves on Loann. Loann breaks the cardinal rule: She sleeps with her sister's ex-boyfriend. Even though she probably deserves a little punishment for betraying her sister, she doesn't deserve being used and thrown away the way that she was. Word gets around that she had a one-night stand with Josh, and other boys from the "in" crowd start to pay her some unwanted attention because they think she will put out for them. Loann starts to realize that things in her life are changing very quickly, and not just for herself; Claire, too, is changing. She is getting too thin and refuses to eat protein. Her once-beautiful hair is becoming dull and lack-luster. Loann sees what Claire is doing to herself, but she is helpless to stop it. Claire drops not-so-subtle hints to Loann to mind her own business if she doesn't want their parents to find out what Loann has been up to with her ex-boyfriend! By the time that their parents finally catch on to what is going on with Claire, her health is already in jeopardy. Never Enough is an emotional roller-coaster! The first part of the book started off a little slow for me, and it brought back those high school memories of the cliques and how difficult it was to fit in. There is a lot of angst in the story. Loann is a very real character, and I could immediately identify with her. Even though a girl like her would normally be jealous of her prettier big sister, Loann never came across that way. She admired and was proud of her, and her love for her sister is palpable. Their family life was difficult to read. Their mom, Beth, feels like she has failed Claire by not recognizing the signs of her illness. I think she actually did realize what was going on but didn't know how to deal with it. Their dad is the typical absent father who is so self-absorbed that he fails to realize that he is at the root of the family's problems. He is never home and leaves Beth to run the home and be the disciplinarian. His way of dealing with the familial strife is to not come home. I found myself furiously flipping the pages and getting mad at him for his lack of interest in his children. This is a Young Adult novel, so I was quite surprised by the scene of Loann's encounter with Josh. I don't think I have read a Young Adult book yet that went into such graphic detail, so I think it definitely qualifies for the upper end of the age-range. I like how Jaden handled the aftermath of the tête-à-tête. Loanne is a smart girl and, truth be told, I was a little peeved at how she fell for Josh. She does appear to learn her lesson, though, and realizes that she is not mature enough to handle a sexual relationship. I loved Loann's blossoming relationship with Marcus. I thought it was very sweet and progressed in a healthy way, in sharp contrast to Loann's fling with Josh. Jaden really tackles so many tough issues: Peer pressure, cliques, sex, and eating disorders (bulimia and anorexia). There was also a side-story concerning Marcus' family, and we learn that he is being abused by his father. By mid-way through the book, I found it impossible to put down. Jaden really puts the reader through a gamut of emotions, and I couldn't help shedding a few tears! This is Jaden's sophomore book, and I'm hunting down her debut, Losing Faith, which was released in 2010. A companion book, Never Enough Stories, will be available on September 1st which contains deleted scenes from Never Enough, as well as further details of how the friendship began between Marcus and Loann from Marcus' point of view. Because I enjoyed this book so much, I am willing to try more of the Contemporary YA genre!
Date published: 2012-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Its a MUST Read In Denise Jadens second novel Never Enough, this book will bring out the most important thing, family. It showed me a clear message also about how life is important as well as major issues that teenagers are going through. Reading Never Enough brought many emotions about how someone living with an eating disorder can affect everything around you and how it can destroy a family. It overall hit all the perfect notes in a book that shows how threatening eating disorders can be and learning all about this was an eye-opener that when we notice this happening they should get the help right away. All the characters played a role and I thought Denise Jaden did a great job with Never Enough. I already knew some knowledge of eating disorders through school and growing up but this really gave me a different perspective. Loann's character was always the shadow of her sister Claire who got everything in the family, friends, beautiful and perfect. She really feels like she is left out inside her world, not like once before Claire used to tell Loann everything. It didnt just focus on the eating disorder itself which was very well written because as a reader you see it from Loann point of view which includes different outcomes that come from family, friends, and even ex-boyfriends. Ok, I really, really hated Josh (Claire's boyfriend) I thought the first time you meet him he is a cutie, but under the surface he is like all other men after one thing. After reading one of those scenes I would never understand how Claire went through that process. In using Loann's talent in photography I saw that Denise as using it as a symbol which was blended nicely because it sums up the book and relationships in one way or another. The romance had the perfect chemistry between Loann and Marcus (LOVED HIM) From the first moment these two meet you instantly feel the vibes and how you want them together. This book does cover almost a year and Loann and Marcus' relationship starts off at a friendship stage which was great to see instead of the insta-love. I loved how they shared the same passion and are also going through different issues. I feel for Loann's relationship with her sister Claire as well because they use to be close but since all the issues arise during that year it was hard on both Loann and her parents. I loved their flirting and banter because you can see they are alike. You can feel all the emotions of how Loann was feelings/tension during most of the scenes with Claire. Many things are going through this novel that my emotions were everywhere. Never Enough is one of those books that is unput down-able and full of emotion and health issues and self discovery that Loann goes through as she witnesses her sisters challenges and sacrifices her social life to try to understand her sister. Marcus was there all the time as her best friend and he is also able to help her. This book will always be close to my heart and everyone will read it for years to come because its memorable and its one you cannot forget with its powerful message. Denise Jaden is a great author who proves to show that living with this is a life changing experience that will always be remembered!
Date published: 2012-07-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dreaming of Books Review As sisters, Brie and Faith have never been super close. But when Faith suddenly dies, Brie and her family is in shock. Certain things about the way Faith dies and the events leading up to the night just doesn’t add up and Brie decides to look into things further and get some answers herself. Brie was very courageous. Her family and friends don’t know how to act around her anymore and it seems like everyone is abandoning her in her time of grief. Even when there are whispers that Faith’s death is suicide, Brie believes her sister would never do something like that. When she comes up against roadblocks and people telling her not to look into it, it spurs her on more and gets her more determined to find the truth. Faith is very religious, the “perfect daughter” and the one their parents are more proud of. Tessa was a surprising character. She comes out of nowhere and is so different from Brie but the two of them end up becoming best friends. Before starting the book I knew that there would be a religious aspect to the story. And if you’ve noticed, I don’t really read any religious books but Denise Jaden is a Canadian and local author so I really wanted to give her book a read. It was an important part of the story and I liked the way it was handled.
Date published: 2010-12-26

Read from the Book

chapter TWOi slip into the passenger seat of Dustin’s yellow Mustang, lean over, and kiss him on the cheek. He smiles, and slides a sandy-colored lock of hair behind his ear. The dimple on his cheek makes my heart flutter.“Where to?” he asks, sliding one hand onto my knee. I place my hand on his, stopping him before he reaches the hem of my skirt.My mind works fast and I remember a barn bash one of Dustin’s friends mentioned. “Evan’s party?” I say.“I thought we were going to your place.” He inches his hand up my thigh.I hadn’t actually told him that but I guess I’d been obvious enough. “We can’t. My sister’s home.” I add a pouty huff to pretend I’m just as upset about it as he is.He looks over at me with a suggestive smile, and then past me to the backseat. “We could … park somewhere.”I follow his eyes. Oh, how romantic. Sticky vinyl clinging to my bare ass. Perfect.“I heard it’s supposed to be a big deal at Evan’s.” I make my voice sound light.“Oh.” He meets my eyes.I flinch away, not wanting to give his gaze time to convince me.“Right.” He turns and studies the mirror on his visor.I can’t tell if I’ve offended him. “It’s just …” I tug my skirt back down. “I was hoping to get to know some of your friends.”He stays quiet for a few seconds, letting the car idle on the edge of the curb. Then, without a word, he puts it in gear.I spend the first few minutes of the car ride thinking about how to make things better with him. I take about a hundred deep breaths and make a mental promise to myself to set up another night for us soon. Now that I’ve had a practice run, I’ll be much more comfortable with it next time.“Did you finish your poem?” Dustin interrupts my thoughts and with that one question, not a hint of abrasion in his voice, all is right with my world again.“Um, almost.” My face heats up. I’m flattered that he remembered what I’d been working on earlier when he called. That he cares enough to ask. But I just hope he doesn’t want to hear some of it. My poetry’s not good, not like Faith and her music or anything. Still, it gives me hope that one day I will share all my inner workings and passions with him. When I figure out what those are.He shoots me a grin and one solid nod, but doesn’t say anything else. It’s like he knows my exact thoughts and he won’t ask for more until I’m ready. I can’t hold back a little internal squee. We’re so perfect for each other.It takes longer than I expect to get to the farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere, but I don’t mind. Dustin talks about some of his classes this week and asks me what I think about every little thing. We’re in different classes, different grades even, but I appreciate the fact that he wants to talk to me about the stuff in his life so much when we’re alone, so I try to offer intelligent replies.When we pull up the dirt drive of the party house, a crowd assembles by Dustin’s door. I let myself out and stand on the passenger side while Dustin slaps a few hands and says his hellos. A couple of I-don’t-need-to-shower-more-than-once-a-week guys partying in the back of a pickup truck call for me to come over. Not by my name, but by a more endearing alias, “Hey, baby.” I ignore them.The thing about guys in Sharon, Oregon, is that the majority of them wear this tougher-than-granite act, cracking bottles open with their teeth, their jean buckles, their forearms. I figure it’s to make up for living in a town with a girl’s name.Dustin and I walk across the yard and look for our friends. Well, Dustin’s friends, if one wants to get technical, but I’m sure it won’t take long before they’ll be my friends too. I reach over and intertwine my fingers with his, pulling my shoulders back and standing a little taller. The number of people who watch our trek feels a bit unsettling, but exciting at the same time. This is my third big party with Dustin and I think I could get used to this.A bonfire blazes in front of an abandoned farmhouse on our left. The barn, missing a side wall and lit up by a half-dozen hanging lanterns, sits straight ahead with the guts of the place in plain view.Dustin and I don’t acknowledge anyone else in the yard. Mostly guys. Mostly drunk. We’re heading to where the rest of the party rages, on the upper floor of the barn. Juniors and seniors, less drunk and less biceps-flaunting than the lawn crowd, chat and joke in small groups. A large table displays a full spread of alcohol.“Cool,” Dustin says. “Let’s go.”He pulls my hand, but I don’t move. My feet are wrapped in lead weights. The open-air platform—with no railings, fences, or even chicken wire—combined with all levels of inebriation, terrifies me. I swallow at the lump lodged in my throat.“Why don’t we just stay down here for a bit,” I say.“Yeah, right.” He looks at me like I’ve just suggested we play hopscotch on the mounds of manure. “Let’s get a drink.”I scan the yard around me looking for an excuse, but there’s nothing. Nothing enticing about ditching the fun crowd above for the guys who are vomiting by the swing set, or the ones lying flat on their backs with draining beer bottles propped in their mouths like frothing baby bottles.I try a different, more honest, approach. “Um, do you really think it’s safe up there?”Dustin belts out a laugh like I’ve just said the funniest thing he’s ever heard, then gives my arm a good yank toward the barn entrance.My mouth feels like I’ve sucked on a lint ball. The loft is probably safer than it looks, I tell myself over and over and over again on the thirty feet it takes to get to the barn. Dustin wouldn’t take me there if it wasn’t. And so far tonight, no one’s fallen. I scan the ground around me to make sure.Inside the barn, a stereo above cranks out some old Fergie tune. Halfway along the wall, there’s a staircase. It’s a curlicue access that looks like the fries they make in the school cafeteria. Dustin drags me toward it while I try to keep my mind on cafeteria food. Fries, ketchup, that disgusting, overcooked pasta.I take deep breaths and concentrate on the rickety railing and cross-mesh metal of each stair. When the light from the top floor comes into view, I back up a step. Dustin almost trips, and gets his bearings before tugging on my hand once again.When I force myself to step onto the platform at the top, vertigo hits me and I drop Dustin’s hand to grasp the wall. The dim lanterns streak across the ceiling like a crazed disco ball. People, laughing and talking, come in and out of focus.“Let’s just hang out here for a bit.” I focus on the dusty wood-plank floor and force some steadiness to my voice. By the time my breathing evens and I look up, Dustin stands across the platform, filling a shot glass at the booze table. Did he even hear me?He chats with a group of guys, knocks back the drink, and makes a face that for a second I can’t recognize as someone I would ever be attracted to. Someone comes up the stairs behind me and I’m forced to slide over so they can get through.My BFF Amy stands a few feet away from Dustin, talking to a group of girls near the ledge. Actually, Amy’s not really my BFF. Not like Faith and Celeste, who’ve been attached at the hip since kindergarten. Amy and I are more like BFFN—Best Friends For Now. Or BFWIW—Best Friends While It Works.Amy has Big Plans, just like everyone else in my life. Hers include makeup artistry and working at MAC Cosmetics. I’ve learned to apply perfect eyeliner and toenail polish, but try as I might, I can’t drum up the kind of excitement it would take to organize my life around flawless foundation.I wave. She holds up a drink toward me, her eyebrows raised.I smile back, because Amy doesn’t really drink. She had too much at the first pep rally last year and ended up passed out half-naked in the school parking lot. Since then, she discreetly nurses one drink throughout a whole party.She gestures for me to come over, even though she knows about my fear of heights. I can hardly remind her from here. I shake my head, and then motion for her to come over to where I’m glued against the wall.She nods and holds up a one second sign to me before turning back to finish her conversation.Perfect. At least I won’t look so completely alone. Dustin now holds a beer in one hand and a shot in the other, though he still doesn’t seem to be making a move back in my direction. Maybe I should have just parked with him somewhere. I let go of the wall with one hand and try to wave him down, but he’s caught up telling one of his jokes and doesn’t notice.I’m startled by a vibration in my pocket, and at first I slap at it, thinking a bug crawled on me. Then it dawns on me, and I dig for my cell to look at the display.My parents. Crap.The deal is, I can go out late on weekends because my parents are actually pretty cool despite their heavy church involvement, but I always have to tell someone in the family where I’m going and I have to answer my phone when they call. One time I forgot to charge the stupid thing and got grounded for two weeks because I didn’t pick up. And that was on a Sunday afternoon.Of course they might alter the rules a little if they knew about the booze table, the lack of parental supervision, and the guy who picked me up. I press my cell to my ear, cupping my hand over my mouth to help deaden the music and voices.“Hello!” I yell. My parents’ meeting shouldn’t be over for at least another hour. I can’t believe one of them ducked out to check up on me.A muffled voice sounds on the other end. I plug my other ear to hear better.“Hello?” I say again.“Brie … can you … are you …”“Dad, there’s a band here at Café Rio. I can barely hear you.” I step into the stairwell and crouch down, pulling my arms over my head to deaden the sound. Things are slightly quieter, in the way a football game might be quieter than a rock concert. “Dad, you there?”“I need—” He sounds like he’s choking or sick or something. I’ve never heard him like this. He’s always so … composed.“Dad, are you okay?”“… the hospital … I can’t …”The hospital? “Are you hurt?” I bring my fist to my mouth. Or maybe it’s Mom. “Dad?”“Just come … the hospital …”Silence follows and I look at the display on my phone. It reads CALL ENDED.I click on my phone book and dial Dad back. It goes straight to his voice mail. Following the tone, I ramble on in a panic. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m coming to the hospital as soon as I can. I hope everything … everybody’s okay. Is Mom with you? Okay, I guess I’ll see you soon.”Next, I scroll to my sister’s number and hit send. Hers also goes right to voice mail. Faith always has her phone on, even when she’s at home. She’s the super-responsible one. Never been grounded for anything.Turning cell phones off must be a hospital rule. Which means she’s already there and I, of course, will be the last of the family to arrive.One minuscule step at a time, I move along the wall toward Dustin, who’s now near the open edge of the platform.I can do this, I tell myself. I focus on the floor and attempt to slow my breathing.At least I’ll be there for only a second. Long enough to drag Dustin out so he can drive me. I slide my hand along the wall until I reach him. He doesn’t notice me right away and laughs too loudly at another guy’s joke.Keeping one hand on the wall, I reach over and tug at his plaid overshirt. He finds my hand, laces his fingers through mine, and with a sudden tug, I’m at his side. By the edge. My heart beats like a thunderstorm in my chest.He looks over. “Hey, babe. You gotta hear this.” He turns back to his friend. “Evan, tell Brie about this guy.”“Dustin, I gotta go.” My sweaty hand nearly slips from his. I wrap my other hand around his wrist for some sense of security.“It’s the funniest thing,” he says, as though he doesn’t hear me. “Tell her what his mom made him do.”I pull him toward the staircase. “I mean it, Dustin. There’s some kind of emergency with my family. I need a ride.”Dustin takes a big swig of his drink, and then passes it to Evan. “The girlfriend wants to get out of here. You know what that means.” He raises his eyebrows at Evan. His words slur, but I don’t care. Nor do I care about the show he’s putting on for his buddy. I force my mouth into a smile and hold my lips tight to keep my teeth still.When Dustin reaches in his pocket for his keys, the motion knocks him off balance. The edge is so close. Suddenly, he jerks me down by the hand. The whole barn spins and I scream, squeezing my eyes shut. A roar fills my ears, Dustin’s hand slips from mine, and black spots blur my vision. The next thing I know, someone else’s arms grip my waist and I’m pulled, lifted … saved. I pry open my eyes and am amazed to see I didn’t go over.Dustin rummages on the floor of the loft, still near the edge. “Where the hell are my keys?”The group around him laughs, but he doesn’t notice. Evan, my apparent savior, leans over me, asking if I’m okay. I still hear my scream echoing into the night.I nod. “I just … I gotta go.”I crawl away from the edge, over to Amy, and grab her leg.“Yeah, he’s so cute. I swear—” She stops and stares down at me like I’m some kind of psycho poodle.“Amy, I need a ride. It’s an emergency. I have to get to the hospital.”After a second, recognition crosses her face. She glances at the girl she was talking to, then back to me with more concern. “Oh. Okay. I’ll drop you off.”She doesn’t say anything until we get into her brother’s beater Hyundai, and I’m glad. I just need to concentrate on my breathing for a few minutes.“So, are you and Dustin on the outs, or what?”“Huh?” I rattle the door to make sure it’s shut. “No, he’s just drunk.”“I don’t know.” She shakes her head. “I wouldn’t leave him there like that. You better be careful. He could have anyone—”“I’ve kind of got more important things to worry about at the moment, Amy.” She hasn’t even asked about the hospital. I could be dying of internal bleeding for all she knows.As if she can read my mind, she asks, “So someone’s hurt, or what?”“I don’t know. I mean, my dad sounded awful, and what if—” I stop myself. Faith’s big on speaking things into existence. Not that I believe in that stuff, but still. We sit in silence through the next traffic light. Small beads of rain land on the windshield, and when she turns on her wipers they sound much too loud in the quiet car.“Wow, I sure hope everyone’s okay,” Amy says.But something’s really wrong and she isn’t driving fast enough. When we round the corner and the hospital comes into view, I fling the door open. “You know what? It’s fine. Just drop me here.”She screeches the brakes. “Are you nuts? I’ll drive you, Brie. I’m driving you, aren’t I?” She shakes her head. “Shut the door and stop being such a bitch about everything.”Amy calling me a bitch is like Faith calling me religious. But Amy’s the least of my problems. I yank the door closed. The quicker I can get there and find out what’s going on, the better.She turns into the parking lot. “Look! Your dad’s van!” She uses her “making amends” voice.“Great.” I jump from the car and force out my reply. “Thanks a lot for the ride, Amy. I really appreciate it.” I wave as I run past her car. She doesn’t offer to park. To come in. To find out if my family is okay. Instead, she nearly hits a light post when she zooms backward to spin in the direction we came from.Amy’s always been pretty self-absorbed and I don’t have time to be offended about it now. I race through the automatic doors and straight for the elevator, accosted by the antiseptic smell. Pushing the up button, it hits me that I have no idea what floor they’re on. I scan the wallboard and see EMERGENCY CARE— 4TH FLOOR just as the elevator doors open.When I step off the elevator onto the fourth floor, the first thing that strikes me is the seriousness of it. Nurses and doctors bury their heads in clipboards. A man inches along with a walker as though it’s stuck in sludge. I’m almost positive people don’t have cute, healthy babies on this floor.At the nurse’s station, I spot my sister’s blond hair, and the frumpy gray sweatshirt I saw her in earlier tonight. She leans over the counter toward the receptionist. I let out my breath and march over. At least she’ll be able to tell me what’s going on.As I’m about to grab her by the shoulder, the red stitching on the seam of her top makes me stop. It’s not the same shirt.She turns to face me, the striking blonde who’s not my sister, and moves aside so I can speak to the nurses.“It’s awful,” one heavyset nurse is saying to another, completely ignoring me. “They must be having a horrible time.”“Excuse me?”They both stop and turn to me.“Jenkins?” I say as a question, since I’m not really sure who I’m looking for. My mouth tastes like metal when I speak.The gossiping nurse frowns. She glances at the other nurse, and then points down the hall. “Uh, yes. The last door on the left.”By the time I’m halfway down the wide hallway, the word “Chapel” posted above the last set of doors comes into view. Of course. Where else would Dad be? Must be on his knees in there with the hospital chaplain. My parents’ Big Plan is called predestination, and this is what they do in times of crises. Or anytime, really. They meet with other churchies.My heart still beats hard against my ribs, especially when I notice the police officer pacing in front of the chapel door. I shimmy past him and nudge the door open. My parents are both inside, alone on either side of the small room, and I let out a small breath at the sight of them. The wood walls and ceiling seem jarring after the sterile hospital hallway. Mom perches on a chair to my left, bent forward, and in shadow. The solitary light from the far side of the room shines down on Dad, hunched over the pulpit.“I got here as fast as I could. What’s—”Dad looks up with tears streaming down his face. I glance from him to Mom, then to the rest of the sparse room. The four empty benches. The plants in pots along the side of the room that look too similar and too perfect to be real. Dad holds a gray sweatshirt, one without red stitching, and crumples it in his tight grip.“Where’s Faith?” I ask.There’s a pause and time stops. Suddenly, Mom and Dad come at me so fast and so panicked that I feel like a baby choking on a penny. Having no idea what’s going on or how to react, I ball my fists and pull them to my face. My parents throw their smothering arms around me and I feel explosive heaves from their chests, as though the only air in the room is coming from them.At least they’re breathing. My lungs are stuck together with Krazy Glue. “Where’s Faith?” I ask again, but it comes out in little more than a squeak.Mom lets out a howl of a cry.My parents squeeze me tighter and pet my head as though I’m a dog or a farm animal, and suddenly, I understand.Faith isn’t here. Isn’t coming here.I gasp, and my Krazy-Glued lungs tear apart.I’m no longer the black sheep of the family.I’m the only one.© 2010 Denise Jaden

Editorial Reviews

“This thoughtful first novel explores early grief and shows how it can tear at the structure of a family that cannot mourn together…. [R]eaders are taken on a ride through a secret world of religious zeal gone haywire….With pitch-perfect portrayals of high school social life and a nuanced view into a variety of Christian experiences of faith, this first novel gives readers much to think about.” --SLJ