>After many stops and starts with some pretty shoddy YA lit this summer, I came across some wonderful reviews for Pamela Todd’s The Blind Faith Hotel. I remembered my LRC Director book-talking it for my classes last year, and her response was positive. And, after reading too many testosterone-driven YA titles, I was ready for a change of perspective. The Blind Faith Hotel gave me just that and a whole lot more.
Zoe is your atypical teen. She would rather be out at sea with her dad, a crab fisherman like those you might see on Deadliest Catch, than out with her mother or her friends shopping. When her parents decide to separate, Zoe and her siblings travel from the state of Washington to her mother’s childhood town, located somewhere in the Midwest, to open a bed and breakfast. Zoe vehemently opposes the move and wonders what will become of her father. But, like most young teens, she has no options.
Predictably, she dislikes everything about her new surroundings. But foremost on her mind is her father’s safety. She’s worried about him because of tragic events that occurred during his last trip at sea. Zoe attempts to fit in at school, but realizes the cliques that existed in her previous town are commonplace. Zoe’s yearns for her father, attempts to unlock the ghosts in her mother’s emotional closet, and confronts a physical issue that many girls, unbeknownst to me, face during their transformation from girl to woman. Zoe’s physical issue pushes her to do something she ordinarily wouldn’t do, which lands her in hot water with the authorities and her mother. This is the start of Zoe’s transformation – I’m not giving anything away; young adult novels are famous for radical personal transformations. This is no exception, although Pamela Todd does it beautifully.
Interwoven within the story are some truly symbolic and telling relationships Zoe establishes with a hawk, a misunderstood young man, and a curmudgeonly grandfather-figure. These secondary characters are used masterfully to shed light on the parts of Zoe’s life she desperately wants to keep hidden. Todd puts on a clinic one how to get every once out of secondary characters so we get to fully understand all facets of the protagonist.
The Blind Faith Hotel is appropriately named. When her mother moves her cross country to rehab a dilapidated, old farmhouse and transform it into a bed and breakfast, Zoe doesn’t see the point; she can’t envision the finished product. You are left with the impression that her mother doesn’t quite understand her own motivations either. She’s working on blind faith. Zoe, reluctantly, and her mother, gladly, learn the importance of having blind faith in the pursuit of what they truly love, even when their own doubts try to convince them otherwise.