Faking Faith by Josie Bloss
Reviewed by Noelle: March 21, 2012
Published November 8, 2011 by Flux
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Oh...let's see. Joining an online community based on a specific interest, making unexpected connections with people you've never met in real life, becoming so immersed in this community and its friendships that you make your own blog...nah, I wouldn't know anything about that. Bloss describes this compulsion so uncannily (and hilariously) in Faking Faith that I was onboard right from the start. The power of an online obsession. The rush of community acceptance. The need to be involved and matter--even to an obscure corner of the internet. Bloss hits all the right notes.
Her heroine, Dylan Mahoney, has discovered that social ostracization really does wonders for your blog browsing time. After a series of seriously misguided but cringingly familiar life decisions, Dylan has dropped her entire life--hobbies, friends, extracurricular activities--for the opportunity to date a popular, handsome Grade-A douchebag. And just when you think her bad decisions have reached their peak, out comes the webcam. Dylan is promptly dumped and her entire existence reduced to a Google search result of "sexting" and "girl attacks Benz with golf club".
Dylan spends her newfound free-time doing what else? Scouring the internet. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Oh, the lure of internet boredom. The sites you'll go to, the blogs you'll read. My RSS feed and I know this compulsion well. (One day I might take up stained glass and soldering or live on a ranch. You just never know.)
Dylan eventually stumbles across a link to a blog run by a home schooled fundamentalist Christian girl and becomes fascinated with the contrast to her current life. Her recent troubles have led Dylan to question her family's emotionally distant dynamic and whether her unsupervised freedom to make such humiliating mistakes was really such a benefit after all. Her voyeurism evolves into an obsession that drives her to create an alter ego Faith and start a blog of her own in the community.
She is drawn to the alpha-blogger of the genre (there's always one above the rest, right?) and finds herself truly connecting with the girl. I laughed out loud at Dylan's description of the buzz of finally being acknowledged by the queen bee herself. After suffering through the social desert of being a high school outcast, Dylan welcomes the connection and treasures the friendship that develops with Abigail-- so much so that she plans a trip to stay with Abigail and her family.
This is where some suspension of disbelief becomes necessary. It's hard to believe that Abigail's family wouldn't gain permission from "Faith's" parents for starters. For another it is one thing to blog about baking and milking cows like you know what you're doing. It is quite another to pull off a charade of farm chores in front of actual professionals for two weeks. Thirdly, it's hard to believe Faith was never required to bust out a Bible verse once or twice. Bloss handled Dylan/Faith's blunders pretty well, but also had Abigail's family give her quite a generous amount of wiggle room.
Speaking of Abigail's family--HOLY ALMANZO WILDER, Asher! I was not---NOT--prepared for this amount of swoon in a book about fundamentalist Christian bloggers. Abigail's brother Asher is just...wow. A sweet, sincere, soulful farm boy? Just...hot damn. (Sorry.) I loved everything about Dylan learning to trust that not all boys are Grade-A douchebags.
Objectively, I'd give this somewhere around 3.5 stars. There are plenty of funny, intriguing and tingly moments and I sped through this book in one sitting. There are also some aspects I wish had been more fleshed out. I would have liked a contrast to Abigail's dad in their community. I also felt the ending was rushed and too simplified to wrap up the story like it deserved. Yet I was seriously entertained by descriptions of Dylan's internet life, intrigued by the details of Abigail's family and their lifestyle, charmed by the scenes between Abigail and Faith and straight up giddy over Dylan's interactions with Asher. When it's time for Dylan to admit to her deceptions, I definitely felt the stakes.
And for that reason, along with a comprehensive investigation into the amount of objectivity vs. the amount of squees given, I rate this book 4/5 stars. Definitely check it out if you get the chance.