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Little Faith

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In this moving new novel from celebrated author Nickolas Butler, a Wisconsin family grapples with the power and limitations of faith when one of their own falls under the influence of a radical church 

Lyle Hovde is at the onset of his golden years, living a mostly content life in rural Wisconsin with his wife, Peg, daughter, Shiloh, and six-year old grandson, Isaac. After a troubled adolescence and subsequent estrangement from her parents, Shiloh has finally come home. But while Lyle is thrilled to have his whole family reunited, he’s also uneasy: in Shiloh’s absence, she has become deeply involved with an extremist church, and the devout pastor courting her is convinced Isaac has the spiritual ability to heal the sick.

While reckoning with his own faith—or lack thereof—Lyle soon finds himself torn between his unease about the church and his desire to keep his daughter and grandson in his life. But when the church’s radical belief system threatens Isaac’s safety, Lyle is forced to make a decision from which the family may not recover.  

Set over the course of one year and beautifully evoking the change of seasons, Little Faith is a powerful and deeply affecting intergenerational novel about family and community, the ways in which belief is both formed and shaken, and the lengths we go to protect our own.

336 pages, ebook

First published March 5, 2019

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About the author

Nickolas Butler

18 books922 followers
Nickolas Butler is the author of the novel "Shotgun Lovesongs" and a collection of short stories entitled, "Beneath the Bonfire".

Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, he was educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. His work has appeared in: Ploughshares, The Christian Science Monitor, The Kenyon Review Online, Narrative, The Progressive, and many other publications.

Along the way he has worked as: a meatpacker, a Burger King maintenance man, a liquor store clerk, a coffee roaster, an office manager, an author escort, an inn-keeper (twice), and several other odd vocations.

He presently lives on 16 acres of land in rural Wisconsin adjacent to a buffalo farm. He is married with two children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 877 reviews
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
April 4, 2019
"How do you disagree with someone you love so fiercely?"

By and large, life has been good to Lyle Hovde. While he and his wife, Peg, dealt with the crushing grief of losing their infant son, they had the good fortune of eventually adopting a baby girl, Shiloh.

The teenage years were difficult, and there was a period during which she was estranged from them, but now she has returned home to their rural Wisconsin town with her six-year-old son, Isaac, in tow.

Lyle and Peg are doting grandparents, and Isaac brings them so much joy and love, along with a spark of life and energy as they head into their golden years. But while they love spending time with Isaac, Lyle, in particular, has been growing concerned with Shiloh's deepening alliance with a new church, one run by a magnetic young preacher whose ideas tend toward the extreme.

Faith has been a troubling concept for Lyle since the death of his son many years before. He and Peg still attend the church they always have—the church they met at, in fact—but Lyle doesn't quite believe in a divine being, or the power of prayer. He finds comfort in the familiarity of being in the same place every Sunday, of watching those around him grow old like he is, but he doesn't have any use for the words being spoken or the prayers being uttered.

When Shiloh and Steven, the preacher of her church, believe that Isaac has the ability to heal people, Lyle knows that his daughter is being led astray. He sees Steven for whom he truly is, but he knows that rocking the boat at all with Shiloh may cause her to leave and take Isaac away from them. As Steven's hold on Shiloh intensifies, Lyle and Peg begin to fear for their daughter and grandson, and that Steven may use them for his purposes.

The shaky detente continues until Lyle and Peg realize that Isaac's life may be in danger because of his mother's beliefs, and the influence of Steven and those in the church. As much as they want to keep the peace with their daughter, they know they must do everything they can to fight for Isaac's safety, even if it means jeopardizing their relationship with Shiloh. They cannot bear the thought of losing another little boy.

Little Faith is the latest novel from one of my absolute favorite authors, Nickolas Butler. (His first two books, Shotgun Lovesongs and Beneath the Bonfire , are two of the best books I've read in years.) This is more than a story of parents forced to choose between their daughter and their grandson. It's a tremendously thought-provoking meditation on faith, the beauty of old friendships, and the enduring power of love.

I loved this book so much. This reminded me in some ways like a novel written by Kent Haruf or Leif Enger, in that I just found myself in awe of Butler's prose, his imagery, and his exceptional characters. The story feels familiar but I was totally invested because I found so many of the characters so appealing, like people I wish I knew. You know where the story is headed and you hope you're wrong, but you cannot tear yourself away.

There's an immense charm to books that take place in small, rural towns, especially when the author has respect for their characters. Little Faith is really a triumph of storytelling and quiet emotion, one that I'll be thinking about for a long time afterward.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2018 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2018.html.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/yrralh/.
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :).
994 reviews2,783 followers
March 8, 2019

This was definitely a story that tugged at my heart. It is based on a true story that happened in my home state of Wisconsin. The information is in the author’s notes at the end of the book. This book was a 4 ½ rounded up to a 5 for amazing character development and descriptive writing.

Oh there were so many things I loved about this book. First off the characters! Lyle is in his golden years and quite happy now that he has his daughter and grandson back in his life. He fills his time working at an apple orchard with his great friend Otis. It is a lot of work to tend an orchard but the two men seem to love what they do, enjoying the great outdoors.

Lyle and his wife Peg were only able to have one child, a son, who passed away when he was a toddler. “The heaviest thing in the world is the coffin that carries the weight of a child, for no adult who has ever borne that burden will ever forget it.” There is a mystery of sorts as to how they came about adopting Shiloh which I will leave you to discover. She was always quite headstrong and when she was out of high school she set out on her own, moving from her small Wisconsin town to the Twin Cities. She came back home with a little boy, Isaac, whose father she will never talk about. Soon Isaac is so deeply entwined in his grandparents lives that they can’t imagine their life without him.

Shiloh continues to work outside of her small town and she falls in love with a very radical preacher, Steven, a “fire and brimstone” type of man who is very charismatic. Shiloh is soon under his spell and believes everything he tells her including that Isaac is a “healer” which means that when he touches someone who is ill, he may be able to heal them.

Lyle has strong doubts about all of this but is cautioned by his friend Charlie, a minister, who tells him the best thing to do is to go along with things and stay as close as possible to Isaac, which he attempts to do. In the end, however, Shiloh insists that her son live with her and Steven.

There are other characters who are fully developed, Lyle’s friend, Hoot, is quite a colorful man and very strongly opinionated but has a heart of gold. He also has grown to love Isaac and is not at all impressed with Steven and his radical ideas. We get to know Hoot quite well as Lyle drives him to and from his doctor’s appointments.

Mr. Butler’s writing is very descriptive and it’s easy to see in my mind’s eye the changing of the seasons, the color of the Fall leaves and the ripening of the apples. “Isaac . . . .chewed this apple, which somehow tasted of tart raspberries and cream, its inner meat at once crunchy and softly ephemeral, dissolving like a cloud of cotton candy. He could not believe his taste buds and kept biting into the apple for more”. His writing pulled me in from the beginning and never let go.

This is a story of family, community, love, forgiveness and life in a rural Midwestern town. The characters were very believable to me and the only reason this was a 4 1/2 for me was because of the somewhat abrupt ending, I didn’t see it coming and was unprepared for the feelings that I still had for all of the characters, I didn’t want to let them go. This, I know, is what makes for a great and moving novel!

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,739 reviews14.1k followers
April 9, 2019
One of those quiet books, with some great, well rounded and hard-working characters. The kind of book that gets under your skin and into your heart. Rural Wisconsin, Peg and Lyle, long married, retired, feel fortunate to have an adopted daughter, Shiloh. Their grandson Isaac, eight, a joy in their lives, and when Shiloh moves back home with her son, they are over the moon.

Peg, a firm believer, regular church goer, the complete opposite of her husband, who struggles with believing in a higher power. When Shiloh becomes involved with a newer, more suspect church, they are both stunned, but willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Until she moves out and in with the pastor of that church, and they find out things that are, they believe detrimental to their grandson.

Characterizations are this authors strongg suit here, he does such a great job that I came to feel as if they were people i actually knew. The ups and downs of a long marriage that has wethered its share of ups and downs. Gorgeous descriptions of the natural settings and of the apple orchard where Lyle helps out part time. Faith, the different ways it is expressed, how it can be harmful if wieled in the wrong hand. The love of parents, unconditional, for their offspring and their offspring. Friendship, the kind that endures, the kind on which you can always count. The best part though is that the author doesn't hold the readers hand, his ending shows his trust that we are bright enough to figure it out on our own.

ARC from Edelweiss.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,146 reviews2,480 followers
May 3, 2019
4.5 stars

When this book was recommended by Ann Patchett in her newsletter, I knew I had to read it. And am I glad I did! Marialyce and I read this together and it gave us much to discuss and ponder.

Peg and Lyle are a hard-working salt of the earth couple. They live in a small town in rural Wisconsin where everyone knows their neighbor and they help each other out when trouble strikes. They live simple, contented lives. The story is told mainly from Lyle’s POV. As his inner life and struggles are revealed, I found him relatable even though we live very different lives.

These are characters that are so well developed I felt as if I knew them. The supporting characters are wonderful as well, especially Lyle’s lifelong friend, Hoot. I just loved him! Their relationship epitomized what it means to have a friend and be a friend.

Years ago, after the devastating death of an infant son, Peg and Lyle adopted a daughter, Shiloh. After her tumultuous teenage years, she left home but returned years later with her 5 year old son, Isaac. Isaac is the apple of his grandparent’s eye and they enjoy a very close relationship, one that warmed this grandmother’s heart.

But trouble is brewing. When Shiloh falls under the spell of the preacher of a radical “church” who believes in faith healing instead of medical care, Peg and Lyle fear for their grandson’s life when he falls ill. The dilemma of what to do provides much of the tension in the book. How far can and should grandparents go to intervene? There are no easy answers, and risks with any option. Knowing this story was inspired by a true event (described in the afterward) made it even more meaningful.

Beautifully written and told over the course of a year, this book affected me deeply. It’s a story of family and friendship, parenting and grandparenting, love and life, faith and doubt, aging and illness.

Thought-provoking and powerful, this story resonated deeply with me. It’s one of those quiet novels that has a lot going on under the surface and is quite deep.

Highly recommended. This would make an excellent book club choice. For this duo review, and others, please visit Marialyce’s blog at https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,744 reviews2,274 followers
April 8, 2019
This story begins in Spring, goes through the ensuing seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter and back to the following Spring, but wanders back a bit in time, revisiting old memories which helps establish the events that took place in the years before.

”One Mississippi . . . two Mississippi . . . three Mississippi . . . ”

Lyle Hovde counts while his grandson, Isaac, hides tries to find a place to hide in this small cemetery. Lyle, who is ”patient as a dusty cabinet clock in a dining room corner.”

After Lyle finishes cleaning off the headstone of his son, Peter, who didn’t live long enough to see his first birthday, Isaac asks him to tell him, again, the story of what happened to Peter, and Lyle reflects on the loss of his son, and how he and his wife, Peg, came to adopt Isaac’s mother, Shiloh.

Faith, the authority it can hold, as well as its boundaries, are observed in this story that centers on a family whose daughter, once lost to them, is found. The prodigal daughter, returned, has brought along her young son, Isaac, who quickly bonds with his grandparents. And soon thereafter, Shiloh meets a young preacher of a suspiciously cult-like “church” who charms her into believing that Isaac has a gift – he is a healer. Shiloh, eager to win this preacher’s heart, follows him blindly down a path that proves to put even more of a wedge between her and her parents, and puts Isaac’s life in danger, as they choose prayer instead of medicine to cure him of his diabetes. And just as swiftly, it seems that Isaac becomes the sacrificial pawn.

”The world is filled with a near endless array of mysteries, and an even more infinite amount of guesses, grifts, lies, spiels, and here and there, almost hidden, a very few sacred handfuls of answers.”

Faith is a prominent theme, but not in the strictest sense of theological ways, it’s more about the faith that these small close-knit communities have, whether it’s among this small town or a group of people anywhere that share a bond, or among people anywhere whose lives have taught them humility, it’s about having faith in those around you, those that you have come to trust. And while it is not anti-religion, it points to the ways it can be twisted, turned around, and misused by those who seek to have control, in order to wield that power over others. In the end, it is the faith we have, and hold near to us, in each other, and – or – in something bigger than us that gives us the strength to endure, and that also brings us solace and joy.

”Increasingly, Lyle found that he was most at home in the quiet, near those he loved, not trying to solve any problems or answer any questions, but, rather, just learning how to live more lightly, love more intensely, eat better, and, before his eyes closed at night, to read through the shelves and shelves of books that sadly, he knew, he would likely never live long enough to open, those white-winged birds perched on his chest in the pale light of his bedside lamp, waiting for their thin pages to be flicked lightly by a wet fingertip, and turned, giving over their stories and poems and mythologies. Increasingly, and in direct contrast to his lust for books, Lyle found that he loved nothing more than a good catnap, stealing sleep the way a child steals a quarter off the counter—a small, insignificant but thrilling theft.”

Many thanks, once again, to the Public Library system, and the many Librarians that manage, organize and keep it running, for the loan of this book!
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,453 reviews7,562 followers
September 26, 2019
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

How can it all be random, chance, a beautiful cosmic accident? How?

Here’s a dramatization of what I imagine it would look like if I ever attended a Nickolas Butler meet-n-greet . . . .

Little Faith is only my second experience with this author, but I’m most definitely willing to say damn this fella can write. The story here centers around Lyle and Peg – retirees residing in rural Wisconsin. Their daughter Shiloh has recently returned to the family homestead along with her six-year old son Isaac. She’s also become an active member of a new church . . . .

Holy-Rollers I was maybe prepared for. But it seems our daughter has joined a cult.

Lyle lost his faith years ago when he and Peg’s son was born – only to die within hours. However, he’s always been supportive of Peg’s (and anyone else’s) beliefs when it comes to things of a godly nature. But when Joel Osteen Shiloh’s pastor (and potential future husband) amps up the creep factor by claiming Isaac to be a “healer” Lyle has trouble keeping his opinions to himself - potentially breaking up their newly reunited family.

As you can see, at its heart this is a story about family and faith. It’s probably not for everyone since there’s not a lot of action or bells and whistles, but I found it to be absolutely absorbing. I felt I actually knew these people by the time I was done reading and I was bummed to not get to be part of their lives any longer. I wanted to shake the crap out of Shiloh and her Kool-Aid drinking idiot ways, run “Pastor” Steven over with a truck and become best friends with Hoot. I’m pretty thrilled that there’s not only another Butler novel out there that I’ve not yet read, but also that I discovered an (olllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllld) unread ARC of his short-story collection on the Kindle the other day. I’m officially a fan.
Profile Image for Marialyce .
1,983 reviews716 followers
May 3, 2019
It is often difficult to look back upon a life and see all its pitfalls and unhappiness. However, for Lyle Hovde, and his wife Peg their life seems one of contentment. Their daughter, adopted when she was just days old is home again with her six year old son, Issac. The Hovde's had lost their son to illness when he was just a baby so they doted on Issac. It is Issac's grandfather through which this story is mostly told, and he adores Issac. Peg is a religious god fearing woman while Lyle has issues and doubts about faith and the church's teachings. Lyle is a good man and tries to reconcile what he feels but when his daughter Shiloh, a difficult person in her attitudes and previous behavior, joins a church that has questionable tenets, Lyle becomes immersed in a struggle that is sad and overwhelming.

As Shiloh becomes more involved in the church and its pastor, Steve, she moves away from the loving protection of her parents taking Issac with her and ultimately forbidding Lyle from having contact. It's a hard blow to Lyle and he suspects, especially with Issac being diagnosed with diabetes, that there is something quite amiss with this new church and Pastor Steve. It is Pastor Steve's belief that six year old Issac is a healer, that he is able to lay his hands upon an ill person and they will feel better. There seems to Lyle, something sinister and evil about Steve, but his daughter is enamored and immune to Steve's possible ills and places her son in his care and guidance. Bad things seem to be in the future for Lyle, Peg, and the two they love. Is there a way out of this dilemma or are Lyle and Peg never to be that wonderful integral part of Issac's life they one envisioned?
This was a beautifully told story, evocative of a well drawn character study that places the protagonists forefront in the reader's mind. Mr Butler allows us into the heart and soul of characters who deeply care for one another and through the images of the passing of the seasons, he paints a picture of love, loss, and faith. Protecting the ones you love is often difficult, but it is a journey we all travel and a job we all take into our hearts. Recommended to those who so enjoy a wonderfully written, beautifully portrayed story with characters that work their way into your soul and heart.

Jan and I once again were able to share this story. We both were amazed that this simply told tale reflected so much upon the struggles so many have with their faith, their family relationships, and the connection between grandchildren and their grandparents.
To see our duo reviews you can go here: http://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpress...
Profile Image for Tooter.
416 reviews168 followers
August 20, 2019
4.5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. Loved it but the ending was a little strange....as though there wasn’t an ending.
Profile Image for Ron.
388 reviews89 followers
June 3, 2020
”They were different in any number of ways, but they were both kind, and of course, kindness is a great measure of one's ability to befriend and perhaps love other people."

Little Faith opens with the questioning and banter that can only come from a boy of five and his grandfather. Their talk is frank, honest and touched with love because that's where it comes from. After a game of hide and seek in the cemetery, they pause to scrub down a headstone and a large piece of Lyle's (the grandfather) past is revealed through Isaac's questions, “Tell me again,” said the boy, “how he...what happened to him?” That past remains with Lyle and his wife. A loss of faith, changed forever, but not consumed because as one door closes, another is opened. Beyond the cemetery is the open countryside with its fields of corn and beans of Western Wisconsin. It's the third book of similar setting for Nickolas Butler. Patches of forest, a wide open sky, the Mississippi River ever running by the small town at its bank. Being from Illinois, I feel at home in these pages. But like his first two, it is the place that the characters take me (or I should say the writing of them), not simply the place they inhabit that make the story notable. With Little Faith, the setting is not extraordinary. What occurs is not extraordinary. They didn't have to be. But what they did was serve to make what I read tangible, beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking.

”How is it that this isn't some grand dream? How can it all be random, chance, a beautiful cosmic accident? How?”
Profile Image for Raquel Estebaran.
293 reviews177 followers
November 6, 2021
Novela con una historia conmovedora y amarga narrada con mucha sensibilidad.

Lo mejor, los personajes y la ambientación.

Muy buena novela.
Profile Image for Kerry.
805 reviews94 followers
September 6, 2022
Thanks to Harper Collins for this ARC.
4.5 rounded up. This was a quick and very haunting read. Can't tell you how quickly I got invested in these characters. When that happens I always ask myself why. The main story teller is a man but we are in a similar age demographic and have some similar ways of looking at the world. This author himself is younger (More midlife than what I think of as later life--never use the word geriatric) but he does a wonderful job of describing thoughts and concerns of this time of life. I seldom put quotes in a review but I just couldn't let this go, it describes so well my current thoughts:

"Increasingly, Lyle found that he was most at home in the quiet, near those he loved, not trying to solve any problems or answer any questions, but rather, just learning how to live more lightly, love more intensely, eat better, and before his eyes closed at night, to read through the shelves and shelves of books that sadly, he knew, he would likely never live long enough to open, those white-winged birds perched on his chest...."

The writing is often better when it is not trying so hard to push the story forward, but the author does a very good job with that as well. The story revolves around an older couple, whose only daughter returns home with a child--their only grandson--and is currently involved with an alternative church. This pastor/minister feels the daughter's young boy (5 years of age) has the power to heal and is exploiting this "talent" as part of his ministry. No spoilers but this does not bode well for this family.

I loved this book and read it in a few sittings. I only wished it had a little more of a background on why the daughter was so estranged, her character was the only one I felt was not as well developed. The story is somewhat familiar in its arch but the characters carried it for me. I did read the author's previous "Shogun Lovesongs" but plan to go back and read "Hearts of Men. A really wonderful read. Due for release in March 2019
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,606 reviews2,055 followers
November 12, 2018
A thoughtful entry in the Quiet Midwestern books, pleasantly reminded me of Kent Haruf. But mostly I really enjoyed the look at faith and conflicts because of faith. This is a particular interest of mine, something I'm writing about myself (and why I have a "religion" shelf on goodreads). It's uncommon to see modern fiction really dwell on this topic in a way that feels empathetic.

Lyle has gone to church his whole life though he doesn't consider himself a particularly religious man. But he's forced to confront and examine his beliefs when his adult daughter becomes involved with a new church and his best friend gets a terminal diagnosis. While there are some big plot pieces in here, much of what we see is following Lyle through the everyday as he worries about losing access to his grandson and examines the world in an attempt to try to relate to his daughter.

My only real issue with this book's approach to religion is one that applies to most books about religion, it focuses not just on everyday belief but on an extreme sect. It feels like we can never get books about faith without getting something on the extreme side and that's a shame, though it's not this particular book's responsibility, just something I've noticed as a whole.
Profile Image for Holly R W.
343 reviews33 followers
August 24, 2022
"Little Faith" is a stunning book. It hit all of the right notes for me. Simply written, it is thought-provoking and full of depth. The story itself centers around a 65 year old man (Lyle) and the life and family he has created for himself in a small Wisconsin town. He and his wife had adopted a daughter (Shiloh), who is now a young woman with a young son (Isaac). Shiloh has not outgrown her adolescent rebelliousness towards her parents. Isaac is a delightful child; His grandparents dote on him. Problems arise when Shiloh joins a nontraditional church. The charismatic pastor there declares that 5 year old Isaac can heal people.

In addition to the story, I love how the author used language. As a mid-westerner who enjoys the outdoors, Butler's descriptions of icy winters, Lake Superior and the dappled light of the apple orchard spoke to me. His characters are alive with understated feeling. Wonderful!

Content Warning: Cancer, Diabetes, Child Neglect
Profile Image for Dina.
582 reviews322 followers
February 26, 2020
Este hombre no sabe escribir nada por debajo de la excelencia. Una delicia, una relación abuelo-nieto y una ambientación en lo profundo de EEUU que no tiene desperdicio.
Profile Image for ☮Karen.
1,494 reviews9 followers
May 21, 2019
I adore this author, even more now than before. After winning his Shotgun Lovesongs out of the blue and then surprisingly loving it, I was excited to find this one on audio. It touches on so many topics I enjoy reading about, the characters are wonderful small town folk, and I thought the audio narrator was pitch perfect. This story could well have been written by the late great Kent Haruf, and I mean that as the highest form of praise for Mr Nickolas Butler. The ending was vague but there are clues to help you decide what has happened. I love that, but I also wonder if I am on the right track. With that, and its controversies over religion, this would make for a lively book club discussion.
Profile Image for Dale Harcombe.
Author 14 books298 followers
September 18, 2019
Four and a half stars.
Lyle Hovde lives with his wife Peg in rural Wisconsin. Despite some troubles years up with their adopted daughter Shiloh when she was growing up, Lyle is pleased to have Shiloh back home along with her five year old son Isaac. What does concern Lyle, is her involvement with a church that is far different to the church which Peg and Lyle attend. While Peg has a faith, Lyle mostly goes along out of habit rather than a deep abiding faith of his own. When the pastor at Shiloh’s church insists Isaac has the ability to heal the sick, Lyle is suspicious and worried. Especially when Steven, the pastor’s actions do not seem to Lyle to be appropriate given his position as pastor and his romantic involvement with Shiloh. Over a year a lot happens in this family.
This is a gentle, easy paced story about family, friendship and faith. I loved the relationship between Lyle and his grandson. Loved the friendship between Lyle and Hoot and how it was portrayed. Hoot is a real life wire. Also loved the picture of the marriage between Lyle and Peg. The characters are strong, well rounded and absolutely believable. From its stunning cover to the last page I was completely drawn in to this.
At first I was a little nonplussed by the ending but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed exactly right. Not an author I had read before but I would be keen to read another by this author. The simple prose, strong characters, setting and observations of life, had me wanting to keep reading this book. It’s not going to be a book for everyone, but what book is? All I know is I loved it and was so glad I read it.
Profile Image for Alberto Delgado.
582 reviews106 followers
January 24, 2022
Otra joya de este escritor, libro que saca libro que me maravilla. Que forma de narrar las historias y construir personajes. En todos sus libros que he leído me ha echo transportar a los parajes del medio oeste americano y reconocer a sus personajes como algo propio de mi forma de vida viviendo yo en un entorno totalmente diferente. Bello y conmovedor dentro de la sordidez de la historia que cuenta. Gracias que su cuarta novela se publica en poco mas de un mes en España para disfrutar de otra nueva historia de este autor.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,612 reviews2,580 followers
May 10, 2019
(3.5) Butler follows in Kent Haruf’s footsteps with this quiet story of ordinary Midwestern folk facing a series of small crises. Lyle Hovde worked for an appliance sales and repair shop for 30 years until it closed down. Now in the autumn of his life, he is the only hired help at a local Wisconsin orchard but is more interested in spending time with Isaac, his five-year-old grandson. Lyle has basically been an atheist since he and Peg lost a child in infancy, which makes it all the more ironic that their adopted daughter, Shiloh, has recently turned extremely religious. She attends a large non-denominational church that meets in an old movie theatre and is engaged to Pastor Steven*, whose hardline opinions are at odds with his hipster persona. Steven and Shiloh believe that Isaac has a healing gift – perhaps he can even help Lyle’s old pal, Hoot, who’s just been diagnosed with advanced cancer? It’s all well and good to have faith in supernatural healing, but not if it means rejecting traditional medicine. The main story line reminded me most of Emily Fridlund’s History of Wolves (health and superstition collide) and Carolyn Parkhurst’s Harmony (the dangers of a charismatic leader).

This is the epitome of a slow burner: things don’t really heat up until the final 35 pages, and there were a few chapters I thought could have been cut altogether, like the one in which Lyle delivers a final truckload of apples to a store and has a minor car accident on the way back. The female characters struck me as underdeveloped, but I did have a genuine warm feeling for Lyle. There are some memorable scenes, like Hoot’s “Last Supper” and Lyle’s heroic efforts to save the orchard from an ice storm – a symbolic act that’s more about his desperate wish to save his grandson from toxic religion. But mostly this is a book to appreciate for the slow, predictable rhythms of a small-town life lived by the seasons.

[*So funny because that’s my brother-in-law’s name! I’ve also visited a church in a former movie theatre. I was a part of fairly extreme churches and youth groups in my growing-up years, but luckily nowhere that would have advocated foregoing traditional medicine in favor of faith healing. There were a few false notes here that told me Butler was writing about a world he wasn’t familiar with.]

Favorite passages:

“It is the most obvious blessing and curse of a small town: your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and clergy are forever, it seems, riding in your pocket, staring at you out of their window, intimate enough to intrinsically know when you are happy, sad, distracted, in love, or itching to disappear altogether.”

“Increasingly, Lyle found that he was most at home in the quiet, near those he loved, not trying to solve any problems or answer any questions, but, rather, just learning how to live more lightly, love more”

“‘Silent Night’ in a darkened country chapel was, to Lyle, more powerful than any atomic bomb. He was incapable of singing it without feeling his eyes go misty, without feeling that his voice was but one link in a chain of voices connected over the generations and centuries, that line we sometimes call family. Or memory itself.”
Profile Image for Martie Nees Record.
674 reviews137 followers
April 7, 2019
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pub. Date: March 5, 2019

This is a story about religious extremism and how it can destroy a family as well as a town. But this is not the loud and angry tale one might expect from such a premise. It’s a quietly and delicately penned. In many ways, Butler’s “Little Faith” reads like “Plainsong,” written by the acclaimed American author Kent Haruf. “”Faith" also has similarities to any novel written by Howard Frank Mosher, a much loved American author. “Plainsong” is located in Denver. Mosher’s fiction takes place in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. “Faith” is also located in another small American town, this one in Wisconsin.

The residents are plain-spoken people, needing not much from the world, but a good crop, family, friends, and a place to worship together as a community. The reader will meet grandparents who are in their mid-sixties—not quite old but content being in their autumn years. They are helping to raise their five-year-old grandson, whom they adore. He is the child of their single-mother daughter. The daughter may be the only character who is difficult to grasp. Butler never really explains why she can be unkind and manipulative towards her parents. She left home years, ago returning with a little boy. The grandfather is the story’s narrator. Some of the novel’s sweetest scenes are between himself and his grandson. “Oh he loved the boy; and that was all there was to it.” The book is divided into seasons. The lyrics to the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” are the essence of this novel. “To everything, There is a season, And a time to every purpose, under heaven.”

Friction in their little family begins when their daughter falls for a new young preacher who has just come into their little town. He creates a new fire and brimstone congregation. He may or may not be selling snake oil. No matter, she is smitten. As Dusty sang “The only one who could ever reach [teach me] was the son of a preacher man.” When he tells her that he is convinced that her son has healing powers, she never doubts him for a minute. This will lead to a crisis that will boil over into their community. Throughout the book, the reader will follow all the main characters on their own private religious journeys. However, although the story is filled with theological questions, and undoubtedly the book is exploring one’s religious beliefs or lack of them, its strength lies in the author’s tender descriptions of how his characters chose to live their lives.

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Profile Image for Alena.
868 reviews220 followers
May 27, 2019
4 enthusiastic stars

I was already a fan of Nikolas Butler after reading Shotgun Lovesongs, so I came to Little Faith expecting great things and I was not disappointed. Butler writes in a particularly midwestern cadence that feels honest and familiar. Better yet, he offers characters who are true, complicated and full of heart.

"Lyle held Peg’s hand even as he could hear her heart breaking, the way a cracked mirror falls in sharp shards, not all at once, but in that slow avalanche of fractures, some pieces clinging to the frame even as the center has fallen away, given up."

Lyle and Peg are a retired couple in a small town, good people, who’ve welcomed their daughter and her young son back into their home. It all seems so wholesome on the surface, but there are cracks and fissures and most central to the novel, crisis of faith. At its core, this is a novel about faith and about people, told from Lyle’s perspective.

"He was afraid that if he even spoke those words out loud, he would begin to cry; so he kept them, behind his lips, where they swelled and expanded, and his skull felt heavy, and his heart felt fragile, and so he closed his eyes and felt his wife’s arms wrapped around him, the way a child might embrace a tree, and he squeezed her tighter still."

This novel isn’t earth-shattering. It didn’t change my view of the world. But it did speak to me directly and hold my heart and my attention. It’s a book that offers comfort without answers and was the perfect choice for my midwestern early summer deck.
Profile Image for Tory.
1,257 reviews28 followers
August 21, 2018
Fantastic setting. Absolutely GORGEOUS, evocative descriptions of northern-Midwest farmlands, river valleys, fields and streams, and the people who live and love there. The plot itself held my interest and I cared what happened to the characters, but it felt just the littlest bit weak. The underlying concern for Shiloh and Isaac's well-being was there, but it wasn't supported by a strong enough foundation. We had Charlie tell us once why faith healer sects are dangerous, but I really think Lyle should've done some investigating of his own and turned up his own research -- pad out his concern and give us, the readers, a strong backing of his worries. I couldn't get as worried as he was, simply because I wanted some more facts and figures. One conversation wasn't enough to sway me. Beyond that, though, this was gorgeously-written literature that made me proud to be from the rural Midwest.
Profile Image for Buccan.
230 reviews22 followers
March 29, 2023
La he disfrutado mucho.
Una vida sencilla rodeada de una complejidad existencial muy profunda. El protagonista, y su entorno, creen: todos en algo, y todos hasta su expiración y su meta: en salvarse, en redimirse, en seguir, en terminar, en su ambición, en sentirse amparado, en vivir, en el fin. Es una novela que, diseccionada por sentimientos y sensaciones, nos cuenta mucho más que la trama en sí. Y todo narrado de forma bellísima y sosegada, como la novela.
Profile Image for KC.
2,404 reviews
January 25, 2019
Lyle and wife Pat Hovde live an idyllic life in Wisconsin. Their estranged daughter Shiloh recently moves back home with her six-year old son Isaac. Soon Shiloh is insisting that her parents attend her congregation. Lyle has his doubts about the beliefs and practices of the church. After Isaac becomes gravely ill, Lyle is forbidden to take his grandson to a doctor and is told that God will do the healing. Based on true events, this story tests the boundaries of faith and family. I wished that Lyle investigated deeper with his suspicions and I was hugely disappointed in the abrupt ending.
Profile Image for José Manuel.
434 reviews58 followers
January 27, 2021
Este tipo de novelas te deja el cuerpo cortado, sin entender las convicciones religiosas que se ponen por encima del resto de cosas que hay en la vida. He pasado por todos los estados posibles leyéndola, alegre, triste, enfadado, rabioso, impotente, feliz... no puedo pedir más.

PD. El epílogo es tremendamente esclarecedor.
Profile Image for Coleen.
973 reviews48 followers
February 14, 2019
Butler has a really comfortable style of writing, and amazingly, I liked all of his characters, including the ones that were deemed 'bad'. After all, no one is all bad. And the plot was good-- as far as it went, which seemed to me to be no where. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of bad endings, or in this cases as well as many others, no ending. The story just stopped. OK. So what? This seems to annoy me, but maybe not other readers.

Since he has written another book, acclaimed as a Best Seller, I may be inclined to read his previous book.

I won this Advanced Reader's Edition copy in a Goodreads giveaway.

Profile Image for Laura.
823 reviews244 followers
March 26, 2019
I love Butler's writing and storytelling. Pretty impressive to have 4 books out and all of them are very good to excellent, imo. Not my favorite of his but not disappointed in any way.
Profile Image for Mery_B.
658 reviews
March 1, 2021
Parte de ser padre consiste en querer a tus hijos mucho más de lo que ellos te querrán nunca.
Profile Image for Yolanda Morros.
158 reviews11 followers
September 29, 2022
Novela basada en un hecho real, la acción transcurre en un pueblecito del Medio Oeste americano. El escritor nos hace reflexionar sobre la vida rural, el paso de las estaciones del año, la importancia de pertenecer a una comunidad, la soledad, la muerte y el peligro que comporta el radicalismo religioso.
Destacaría, y quizás es lo que más me ha gustado de la novela, la conmovedora y tierna relación entre abuelo y nieto.
Es el primer libro que leo de este autor y me gustaría leer alguno más.
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