I read about this book before it was released in May, and I was intrigued by it’s premise. The tale of a Catholic Priest, accused of molesting a young boy, the impact these accusations had on his family. FAITH is about so much more than this.
Told from the point of view of Sheila, sister to Father Arthur Breen, we learn all about her brother Art. He is many years older than her, and they are half siblings, still they share a bond, a love that many families share.
Early in the book we know Arthur is accused of the most heinous of crimes. Sheila has long left the North Shore area where she grew up, she’s put distance between she and her family. Sheila is drawn back to the Boston area to see how she can help Arthur, and she tells this story as a memoir, or an explanation of how all of Art’s life has impacted his choices, and how it has led up to where he is. We are woven in and out of the life of Mary, their mother, her fist marriage, and then her second marriage. We learn about their childhoods, and then what both Sheila and Mike, Art’s siblings, are willing to do to learn about their brother, and his priestly and family secrets. While so hard to discuss Mary never doubts that Arthur is innocent,he is too quiet, too good. Younger brother Mike searches for answers but also protects his young sons from his brother, he is unsure of Arthur’s innocence.
The topic of priests and sexual misconduct is so sensitive and yet gripping. Haigh tells the story of a family in turmoil, and one with poor communications. The court of public opinion naturally convicted Father Art from the start, but accusations and gossip are just one part of this book. This story is so much deeper and heart wrenching than the publisher’s synopsis gives away. As a Catholic I was intrigued, but as a sister and daughter I was drawn into the secrets and the realities of Arthur’s life.
I am giving this book a 5 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a tale that is much deeper than the surface exposes. I believe this would make an excellent book club or group discussion.