Book Review Losing Faith by Denise Jaden

Even though Brie and her sister are not at all close, Brie cannot help but feel completely lost and distraught after Faith's violent and mysterious death. The sisters may have been close in age, but their personalities were eons apart. As the younger sister, Brie does not even try to live up to the shining example set by her older sister. She is close to having sex with her boyfriend and lies to sneak out of her parents house for parties. Brie is a bit of a wild child in contrast to Faith, who spends every free moment reading the Bible and attending her local youth group.

The night that Faith dies, Brie bribes her into giving Brie a ride to their family's church. Of course, Brie has plans to go to a party with friends and her boyfriend, but she's not going to tell her "perfect" sister this. Faith seems to not want to go, which is weird since she never passes up a chance to spend time at church. Finally, Faith agrees to bring Brie to town. And that's the last time that Brie sees Faith alive.

According to police, Faith wandered away from her youth group friends that night while they were on an outing at a mountain. Later, a scream was heard and Faith's dead body was discovered at the mountain's base.

After the "accident," nothing is right in Brie's world. Her parents are unresponsive. Her boyfriend and friends can still only think about sex and parties. Even teachers are concerned with their own stuff--No one is paying attention to Brie and how she's coping with her sister's death.

Perhaps this lack of attention is what causes Brie's gaze to drift and for her to raise questions of her own. Why was her sister acting so weird about going out on the night of her death? Who is the strange boy that hung back from the crowd at Faith's funeral? And why is Faith's best friend avoiding Brie?

As it turns out, Brie and her sister had more in common than Brie originally thought. Faith was just as mysterious and skillful at keeping secrets as Brie.

*   *   *
I enjoyed this book a whole lot. I loved that there was a mystery at the center of this story and that it was filled with suspense. As far as religion goes, I am more with Brie than with Faith. Even though I don't identify with Faith's views, I loved getting to know her through her sister's quest to find out what really happened the night of her death.

Beyond Brie and Faith, I also liked getting to know some of the minor characters in this book.  The school's resident "freak," Tessa, was probably my favorite. I would love to read a book written from her perspective. 

And, even though this book followed a familiar pattern to lots of other YA books (close family member dies, parent(s) become absent, main character is alone), it somehow felt fresh. I think that this is because of Brie's character. She does not seem like someone who is going to wallow in misery, but is more about action. Without this dynamic main character, this book would've fallen flat. 

I read this book as part of the Contemps Challenge. I have to say that I've read a bunch of these books now, and every one has been a winner. I hope that this streak continues, particularly because I have quite a few more to read!