Thursday, August 7, 2008

Book Review: Matters of Faith


Matters of Faith by Kristy Kiernan

Summary: At age twelve, Marshall Tobias saw his best friend killed by a train. It was then that he began his search for faith; delving into one tradition, then discarding it for another. While his parents were at odds over his behavior, they found common ground with his little sister Meghan, whose severe food allergies required careful attention.

Now Marshall is home from college with his first real girlfriend. Meghan is thrilled to have her around, but there is more to Ada than meets the eye—including her beliefs about the evils of medical intervention. What follows is a crisis that tests not only faith, but the limits of family, forgiveness, and our need to believe.

When I read a review of this book at Booking Mama I knew that it was a book that I had to read. This book is about a family that has a child with life-threatening food allergies but it is also about so much more. You see, it is especially meaningful to me as , I too, have a child with life-threatening food allergies and know from first hand experience what it is like to raise a child with severe food allergies. My son is now 9, but we knew from the age of 1 that he had severe food allergies. Most parents who have children with food allergies like this are always on alert and cautious and our worst fear is that our child will be exposed to something that could literally take their life.

It was challenging to read parts of the book as they hit so close to home and were so realistic. This did not take away from the book for me at all. I loved the book and had trouble putting it down! I found the strength of the writing and characters extremely well done. The author alternates the narrative between the mother Chloe and the son Marshall which was very effective to delve into their deepest thoughts. After I finished the book, I felt like I knew the family. The author was able to describe their thoughts and emotions in a way that the reader felt connected to them in a personal way. It was painful at times to read about Meghan and her anaphylactic reaction and the situation that caused this. I could relate to Chloe on so many levels as a mom, as a mother of a food allergic child. The overprotectiveness I have in wanting to protect my own child but wanting to allow him the freedom to explore the world without fear. To me, Chloe's character was extremely realistic to a mother's feeling towards her children and keeping that in balance when you have to protect both children.

This book is not just a book about food allergies it is about so much more. It addresses the issues of Faith...forcing the reader to examine what the meaning of faith is to the characters in the book as well as challenge their own definition of faith as faith has many meanings and interpretations. It brought to light the theme of faith related to religion as well as medical science and healing.

It also addresses the issues of marriage and how it can change over the years for better and for worse. It also looks at how a husband and wife can handle a tragedy and what that can do to a marriage and a family.

I found that the author was very accurate in her descriptions and details of food allergies and reactions and medical issues overall. I am also a health professional so these issues were important to me to be accurate when you are dealing with a story even in a fictional way related to a very serious topic such as food allergies. Food allergies are on the rise and we are meeting more friends and adults who have or have a family member with life threatening food allergies. It is vitally important to educate yourself as so many people don't realize that ingesting or coming into contact via smell or touch with just a small amount of an allergen (Ex. Peanut) can be a life and death situation for someone with a life-threatening food allergy. We have found our friends, family, schools and community to be very supportive after they are educated and understand my son's allergies. If you want to find out more information about food allergies please visit The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network website which has a wealth of information and has been a great resource for my family. Also, seek out a food allergy support group if you have a child with a food allergy which can be a great support for parents.

Matters of Faith was just released on August 5th and was chosen as a "Hot Summer Read" by Chicago Tribune and as an IndieNext Notable Title for September 2008. Congratulations to Kristy Kiernan for a wonderful book!

I highly recommend Matters of Faith to all and especially think it would be a great book to discuss with a friend or book club. There is a lot to talk about related to the themes in the book.

Check out the author Kristy Kiernan's website here as well.


  1. I have wanted to read this book too and I will be. I've had a fatal nut allergy (all nuts) since I was about 2 yrs old. Growing up was hard and I imagine really hard for my parents keeping an eye on me. Back when I was a kid, these kinds of allergies weren't addressed as they are now. Even as a adult you have to be so careful-reading everything, not being able to just try anything, anytime. I really pray for your family in keeping your son safe and well. Thanks for the fabulous review of this novel Bonnie.

  2. Dar,
    Thanks so much for your comments, they meant a lot to me. This review was quite personal and I tried very hard not to be biased.
    I think that you will like this book as well, it is such a rich story and it is truly about more than food allergies. You will definitely be able to relate to the issue of food allergies from your own personal life experiences. I can understand on many levels what you are going through as well as what your parents went through when you were a child. As an adult, you have more intellegence and maturity than a child to control your environment but still have to be on guard. These type of allergies are so much more common now ,as you said, than when you were growing up. My son also is allergic to all nuts, the same as you are. Thanks for the prayers, I will pray for you that you stay safe as well.

  3. Thanks so much for such a wonderful thoughtful review, Bonnie.

    And Dar, I hope you'll let me know what you thought of the book when you finish it!

  4. Kristy,

    Thank you for writing such a wonderful book! I'm so glad that you stopped by and posted here!!

  5. Bonnie, it is easier when you're an adult in that you can take care of yourself. As a child I remember how hard it was. The only thing you can do is to teach your son to be vigilant and responsible for himself which I'm sure you've done. Unfortunately you can't watch them all the time and I think that's probably the scariest part.


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