A woman confronts hard times that jolt her out of a fuguelike complacency in this novel.
While languishing yet another day at a dead-end office job, Faith Ellis is paid an unannounced visit from a federal marshal, Daniel “Danny” Myers, who is in search of her husband, Ray. Faith isn’t surprised—Ray has always been a wayward partner: unfaithful, indigent, and sometimes even inclined to criminal behavior. Faith finds Ray’s secret stash in the apartment: a gun, 143 mysterious receipts, and $36,000 in cash. Worried that she might somehow be implicated in whatever crimes he has committed, Faith walks away from her job and sets out to find him, tracking down each receipt. She gradually becomes bolder, taking more and more investigative risks, and then begins a romance with a computer-programming genius who teaches her to become a well-compensated webmaster. Faith pulls herself out of deep emotional doldrums, and her search for her missing husband transforms into a rediscovery of the joy of life. She feels attractive again, finds purpose and reward in work, and even takes up jogging. But just as she gives up hope of finding the man she no longer needs, his presence in her life reasserts itself with a grim ferocity. Reed deftly captures the perspective of his female protagonist, who begins the novel a pliable victim and graduates to an aggressive heroine. Much of the dialogue is delightfully quirky—Danny gives Faith, while plying her for information on Ray’s whereabouts, a strikingly effective motivational speech. The climactic conclusion of the story is remarkably unpredictable given the beginning of the book but also formulaically delivered, so it is both imaginative and disappointing simultaneously. Faith’s propulsion out of ennui, though, is irresistibly endearing and manages to avoid even a hint of maudlin sentimentality. Unfortunately, the volume desperately needs a thorough copy edit, and its numerous errors (for example, “Of course it can ruin you life”) could be distracting to the reader. Still, Reed’s debut is an auspicious one, and Faith is a memorable, if peculiar, novelistic lead.
An unconventional and enthralling tale of a personal awakening.