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Little Faith

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  2,060 ratings  ·  435 reviews
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
ebook, 336 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Ecco
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,060 ratings  ·  435 reviews

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Larry H
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"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
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)

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 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
Diane S ☔
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lor-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
Nickolas Butler
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Without a doubt the finest book I'll publish in 2019.
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
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.”

May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

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
Jessica Woodbury
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, religion
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
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars . Loved it but the ending was a little though there wasn’t an ending. ...more
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 ...more
Dale Harcombe
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
No one writes about the Midwest and the people who live there better than Nickolas Butler.
Martie Nees Record
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
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,
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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 ...more
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 ...more
(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 ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Kate ☀️ Olson
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
WISCONSIN GOLD. I'm a lifelong WI resident and actually live in the very area that Butler writes about in this book, so I may be a bit biased ;-) He does a fabulous job of honoring the Coulee Region and the story is so enveloping that I stayed up WAY past my bedtime reading the entire book in one evening. I remember well the true events that inspired this book, of a family withholding medical care from their diabetic daughter for religious reasons, and I feel Butler honored that situation while ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve found a new author to follow! I so enjoyed this book and the writing style of Nickolas Butler. It’s descriptive without being overly so. I can easily picture myself in the scenes of the story, making friends with the characters. Lyle and his wife, Peg lost a child at a young age. They were fortunate to adopt a daughter and eventually have a grandson named Isaac. The relationship between the boy and his Grandpa is so sweet. I was so fond of Lyle’s elderly buddies Hoot & Charlie.
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
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 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Holy Moly! I’ve given too many 5s! Why? Because now I want to give this 6 stars to compensate.

Maybe this is a topographical love because I know the places these people live. Maybe it’s a religious thing because I have known people like Shiloh and Steven. Maybe it’s an age thing because I am and we are Lyle and Peg.

I don’t know but this book just spoke to my soul. I read from the library but I will buy this one to share and re-read.
Ilyssa Wesche
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2018 was not a great reading year for me. I'm hopeful that 2019 will be better and if this is any indication, it will be! I cried at least twice while reading this. I could appreciate Lyle's struggle with religion and belief, although what he came to see as faith I see as hope. Same coin, different sides. The story was touching and interesting, I loved all the characters, and I want to move immediately to this little town in Wisconsin, and live with Lyle and Peg, and Hoot. Especially Hoot. Maybe ...more
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Really, really enjoyed these people and a lot of their stories. Really, really was amazed by Peg and Lyle's ability to continue to "sweetheart it up" with Shitlow .
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
It took me until about a 1/3 of the way through to start to seriously get into this one - I wasn't as engaged as Shotgun Lovesongs (a book I gave almost 5-stars). After hitting that 1/3 mark it started to pick up for me, but then again I felt it lost its way and it rambled around. That ending, that abrupt ending though, sealed any conflicting feelings I had for this one. I can safely give this one a 3-star and not feel badly about it. It was good, and there were many parts I did enjoy - it was a ...more
Wendy Bunnell
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've read all of Nickolas Butler's book, and this one is the hardest for me to review.

I grew up in rural Wisconsin and live in an eastern suburb of the Minneapolis/St. Paul twin cities, so not that far from the locale of this book in Western Wisconsin. I remember the events referenced in the prologue, so I wasn't surprised by the events. But I was surprised by how well the feelings of the parties were explored. The wanting someone you love to see the truth, to listen to reason, but failing, and
Brenda Beukelman
May 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
What? Did Butler forgot to write or submit an ending? Did he run out of time? I can only speculate why this wonderfully well written book has no ending. So disappointed.
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
this is a quiet & devastating read about doting grandparents who watch helplessly as their daughter embraces religious extremism. it is all the more gutting because it is based on true events. one of my favorite moments (thankful for the levity) in this book is when lyle gives a copy of Gilead to the creepy pastor in hopes of influencing him. loved the shoutout & loved the impulse. but seriously- poor lyle & peg. they didn't deserve such a disagreeable daughter; she was genuinely ...more
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Mt. Lebanon Publi...: Little Faith by Nickolas Butler 1 3 Jun 11, 2019 03:55PM  

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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,
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“Part of being a parent is loving your child more than they'll ever love you.... It's true. You'll see someday. You'll see.
The heaviest thing in the world is the coffin that carries the weight of a little child, for no adult who has ever borne that burden will ever forget it. To bury a child is a tragedy many parents never overcome.”
“He cared not for politics; he’d lived long enough to watch every politician he once admired become an abject disappointment, if not a liar.” 0 likes
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