Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Faking Faith by Josie Bloss


Alternate title for this book: Catfishing for Jesus. FAKING FAITH was wild. It's about a girl named Dylan who ends up being the pariah of her school after she has a bad breakup with a popular boy, which results in her bashing his car in with a golf club and him distributing compromising pictures of her to everyone in the student body. After this goes down, Dylan spends a lot of time sulking at home alone while her two workaholic lawyer parents do long shifts. She ends up, as so many of us do, trawling the internet rabbit hole. Which is how she discovers the 2000s equivalent of christian influencer culture: blogs.

Eventually, Dylan becomes so obsessed with these fundamentalist girls that she decides to create her own fake online persona: Faith. She spends a lot of time researching rural life so she can describe the chores she does, and how she practices living her best life (all for God, ofc). Eventually, she ends up sort of befriending one of the Queen Bees in this group of bloggers, a girl named Abigail. So it seems inevitable that Abigail eventually reaches out and invites "Faith" to fellowship with her by staying on at their farmhouse as a guest of honor.

I don't want to spoil too much but this book was honestly so addictive, in the way reality TV is addictive. You know what's happening is going to be bad and you might even really disapprove, but you can't look away. FAKING FAITH is proof that a heroine doesn't have to be likable to be interesting and a story can be pretty messed up and still be good. I also liked how Josie Bloss made a concerted effort to try to portray a nuanced take on Dylan's culture shock, and how Christianity can be toxic but also still has some values that are admirable and maybe even worth emulating. I'm not religious so I'm not sure how offensive someone who is Christian might find this book, because the group that Dylan becomes obsessed with is VERY extreme (no opposite sex contact, for one). But it sure was intense.

Ending was a little disappointing, which is why I'm giving four stars instead of five. Dylan seriously lied to her parents and also stole money from them to visit her friend, and I thought it was ridiculous how their take was WHAT AN INTERESTING SOCIAL EXPERIMENT. In what universe? Also I got way too emotionally invested in Abigail and Asher, and was hoping that their stories would be wrapped up with a slightly more obvious bow. But still-- kudos to the author for such a daring and original concept.

4 out of 5 stars

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