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Matters of Faith Paperback – August 5, 2008

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Matters of Faith + Between Friends + Catching Genius
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425221792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425221792
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,891,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this tense, well-paced novel about belief, Kiernan explores what happens when faith and love test the limits of family fealty. In southwest Florida, college student Marshall Tobias is in search of something to believe in. He thinks he's found God and the woman he's always dreamed of when he falls in love with fundamentalist believer Ada Sparks. But Ada's against medical intervention for illness, and tragedy results when she sets out to help Marshall's 12-year-old sister, Meghan, overcome her life-threatening allergies. Switching points-of-view between Marshall and his mother, Chloe, Kiernan (Catching Genius) movingly portrays a 20-year-old marriage gone flat and torn apart by crisis, a troubled son, a daughter hovering between life and death, and the hard-to-discern boundaries between true faith and unhealthy fanaticism. She handles her difficult material respectfully. Most interesting is her portrayal of the well-meaning traps parents fall into when encouraging open-ended exploration of faith without context, or choosing to remain silent. The thoughtful themes, interesting characters and page-turning drama of this novel will likely make it a book club favorite. (Aug.) ""
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved."

From 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

More About the Author

Kristy Kiernan was born in Tennessee and raised on the beaches of southwest Florida.

She is the author of CATCHING GENIUS, published in 2007 and an Ingram Book Club selection.

MATTERS OF FAITH was published in 2008 and was chosen as an IndieNext Notable Title and won the Florida Book Award bronze medal.

BETWEEN FRIENDS was published in 2010 and was a featured selection for the Literary Guild, Doubleday, and Rhapsody book clubs, and was also chosen a Best Summer Beach Read by Women's World.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
The story is so compelling and the characters are well defined.
It was a compelling and thought provoking read- I finished it in one sitting- I recommend it highly to book clubs as they will find much to discuss.
Patricia Wood
It brought to light the theme of faith related to religion as well as medical science and healing.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Notawriter on August 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the best book I have read since The Kite Runner. Someone who looks entirely normal and healthy may have food alergies that could result in life-threatening, even fatal results. And while this seems to be the main theme of Matter of Faith, Kiernan has woven other more common themes through the tale of the drastic situation created when a young girl is (intentionally?) fed a peanut butter cookie by her brother and his new girlfriend to test the girlfriend's adamant belief that only prayer, not medicine, is needed for healing.

The story is told by both the mother (Chloe) and the brother (Marshall). Through them we view all sorts of human conditions, beliefs and feelings: children of the same family who each need very special considerations; married partners who have never seen eye-to-eye on raising those children; the physchological results of an abusive childhood; searching for faith and what can happen when one "finds" it, possibly in all the wrong places.

This book MOVES. It reads swiftly. It read so TRUE that you cannot but feel you are living with Chloe and her family as she prepares to meet her college son's first real girlfriend,Ada, as she watches daughter Megan become entirely enchanted with Ada and fears husband Cal's cavalier association with his son on his return from school. What happens happens swiftly and the movement never stops, not even when we spend hours, days with Chloe and Cal in the hospital.

This book is intense without being the least bit "preach-y." There are no slow spots. The characters are so well drawn that you KNOW them, even the minor ones. And it has no platitudes, no actual reassurances except to leave you knowing that life is not about absolutele answers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gina Clowes on November 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
I whizzed through this book in every spare moment of free time that I had over three days.

I read very little fiction these days, and I found it very refreshing to see food allergies play such an important part of a mainstream book.

I had myself convinced that Kristy Keirnan, the author, had to have a food allergic niece, nephew or good friend who had a child with food allergies. I was amazed when I found out that that was not the case.Kristy did such an incredible job of describing what it's like to live with someone who has life threatening food allergies.

I found myself actually peeking at the end, so concerned with the outcome. But as I got there, I found it very real and satisfying. It could have gone many different ways but I'm glad she chose the ending that she did.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By book_junkie35 on August 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
I adored Kiernan's first book, Catching Genius, but she's managed to top her stellar debut performance. Matters of Faith is a deeply moving story full of rich emotional detail, suspense, heartbreak, and redemption; I couldn't find a flaw in it. This is a book you'll want to read and think about and discuss and read again--perfect choice for book clubs! I'd give it six stars if I could!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By My College Helper on March 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Matters of Faith is so genuine, I was certain Kristy Kiernan either had food allergies herself or was close to someone who does. Turns out neither is the case. Kiernan simply has a gift for empathy that shines through her writing.

I hope every parent, grandparent, teacher, neighbor, anyone who knows someone with a food allergy has the opportunity to read this book. The story is engaging and the reader becomes a part of the Tobias family as they deal with not only a medical crisis, but with family flaws that have been forced to the surface.

Grab a few tissues and be prepared for the ups and downs of a family who could just as easily live in your neighborhood.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on August 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
At first glance, the Tobiases of the Gulf Coast of Florida could pass for the quintessential American family: breadwinning dad Cal, who runs tour and fishing boats; mom Chloe, who restores art when she has the time; college student son Marshall, seeking the meaning of life; and adolescent daughter Meghan.

But Chloe's (and thus the family's) life and attention revolve around Meghan, whose potentially deadly food allergies demand constant vigilance and dwarf other problems and concerns. Chloe lives in a daily state of dread, worried about what could happen to Meghan.

And then her worst fears come true.

For Marshall not only lusts after God, he also lusts after the beautiful and mysterious Ada Sparks, whom he brings home for a visit. As Ada is something of a religious zealot, Marshall can indulge both his lusts simultaneously and still feel good about it.

But like most lustful young men, he easily loses his backbone as he watches Ada, out to prove a point, feed an allergen to Meghan. God doesn't intervene: Meghan falls into a coma, Marshall and Ada go on the lam, and the resulting tension exposes all the cracks in Chloe and Cal's marriage.

Just another day at the Florida beach this is not.

It is, however, a great read, structured into the first-person story of Chloe, as she navigates through this family disaster, and the third-person story of Marshall, as he instigates and then attempts to right it. Orbiting around mother and son are Cal, who tries to create some semblance of a normal life even as Meghan lies unresponsive in a hospital bed; Meghan, who dominates the family even when comatose; and Grandma Tobias, the harsh religious fanatic whom Cal rejected as a mother long ago.
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