A bright and genial debut about a girl’s awkward coming-of-age in 1980s Canada.
Faith DiNapoli’s mother always knew she would have four children, though she had thought they’d all be boys and she’d name them after the four evangelists. But Faith, her second child, upset those plans, and the DiNapoli brood turned out to be split down the middle by gender: Matthew, Faith, Hope, and Charlie. Faith’s father Joe emigrated from Italy as a young man but never really mastered English and kept the customs of the old country. Faith’s mother, Nancy, came from an Italian family, too, but (as she was always quick to point out) not one as “ethnic” as her husband’s. Joe DiNapoli was a construction worker whose work often took him away from home for long periods. Despite that, the DiPalma home was happy, and Faith had no bad memories of her early childhood. From about the age of seven, however, a cloud descends upon her world. On the day of her First Communion, her mother becomes violently sick in the car—which turns out to be more than a bad omen. Nancy disappears into the hospital for treatment of her mysterious “flu,” and once she comes home, she refuses to set foot in church again—or to speak to the parish priest, who seems eager indeed to have a word with her. Neighbors gossip, Faith’s father goes on about some “sin,” and eventually the entire family moves from Windsor to the little backwoods town of Emeryville, where life goes on more happily—until Faith discovers her mother’s journal and eventually learns the secret that her mother has long concealed. Told across a period of many years, Nancy’s confession becomes one more step in Faith’s entry into the adult world.
Good-natured, witty, told with an agreeably light touch: a story that enchants with its own simplicity.