TEMPTING FAITH DINAPOLI is a winning portrait of the turbulent and
awkward coming of age of a young Catholic girl growing up just
outside of Toronto, Canada in the early 1980s. Title character
Faith is a well-meaning and deeply religious girl who finds herself
slowly slipping down the road to sin after the breakup of her
parents' marriage. This memoir style novel, the first from Canadian
television producer Lisa Gabriele, chronicles Faith's adolescence
from age 8 to 18 as she transforms from proud first time
communicant to the type of girl whose name is scribbled on the
walls of high school bathrooms.
Faith's parents, Italian immigrant Joe (short for Giuseppe) and
free thinking liberal Nancy were clearly never a good match from
the beginning --- forced into marriage because of a shameful
unplanned pregnancy, their problems only increase after having
three more children in rapid succession. They try for several years
to work things out but eventually separate, leaving eldest daughter
Faith despairing over the fact that she'd once heard that children
from broken homes almost always turn out to be delinquents.
Previously a very pious and obedient girl, Faith is shocked when
she begins to notice herself breaking the occasional commandment
here and there --- an unclean thought about the cute neighbor boy
across the street, a cigarette pilfered from her mother's purse, a
swear word or two. When she and younger sister, Hope, inadvertently
trigger an elderly man's rage, causing him to go into cardiac
arrest and die, Faith is convinced that she has committed murder.
Now believing that she was born to sin and nothing she can do will
change the inevitable, Faith sets about busting to bits every
remaining commandment. She becomes a full-fledged and unstoppable
kleptomaniac, rationalizing that if she's going to hell anyway, she
may as well look good on her way there. When that neighbor boy
across the street, several years older than Faith and now covered
in tattoos and unemployed, begins to show interest in Faith, she
reciprocates --- big time.
But it is when she begins to sneak peeks at her mother's secret
diary that Faith starts to feel uneasy about her new lifestyle ---
she discovers that Nancy did a lot of the same things she herself
is doing and look where it landed her --- divorced, raising four
unruly, ungrateful teenagers by herself and working long hours
waitressing at a local diner. The exact same diner where Faith is
now working. Faith gets her wake up call, but it's not in time to
prevent her from having to learn one last, dangerous lesson. One
that nearly costs her her life.
TEMPTING FAITH DINAPOLI is a clever and humorous account of the
pitfalls of growing up that is sure to amuse both those who've been
there and those who are still navigating the way.
Reviewed by Melissa Morgan firstname.lastname@example.org on January 23, 2011
Tempting Faith Dinapoli