3 out of 4 stars
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Mercy by Rebecca Chianese is a story about a 49-year-old woman who has just gone through a divorce. As Carly navigates these waters, she meets Michael, to whom she has a strong attraction, deals with her own grown children’s response to the divorce, and goes on a journey of her own childhood memories. Carly had grown up with a father who was constantly coming and going. He was a rising country music star but left Carly’s mom for another woman. As different as Carly’s adult life is from the one her mother lived, Carly is surprised to find her own marriage ending in divorce just as her mother’s had. As Carly struggles to process her past, her divorce, and the possibility of a new man in her life, she begins to paint again, finding an outlet to express the many emotions rushing through her. As she paints poignant scenes from her past, Carly’s finds a way to begin a journey to her present, a new present with a new man and a new acceptance of her problematic family.
Some of my favorite parts in this book are the descriptions of Carly trying to get the mix of her paint colors just right. I appreciated the work and intensity the character put into her creativity.
The tone of Carly’s narration throughout the book is one of wry humor, similar to what I’ve read in some “chick lit” genres. It works well with the story, especially since much of the book has either a sad or serious nature. The humor made the book palatable in my opinion. It certainly kept it from becoming a crying fest or a dark, depressing drama. The author did a good job in keeping a balance. This balance allowed me to focus on Carly’s history as, piece by piece, it is revealed and connected to her current situation.
I did find some minor spelling and punctuation mistakes, but overall, I would say the book was edited well.
If I had to choose something I didn’t like about the book, it would be the description of how Carly’s childhood memories were triggered. The fact of a smell or a physical sensation triggering a memory makes sense. It is the transition from her present day life to the childhood memory that felt a bit clunky. Each time I was pulled momentarily out of the story.
In spite of these awkward transitions, I still highly recommend this book. It was enjoyable to read. I especially liked following Carly’s childhood story and getting to know her more deeply that way. I also enjoyed the ending. While the story comes to a firm conclusion, I couldn’t help wishing there was a sequel so I could follow these characters a while longer.
I would recommend Mercy for readers who like some real life situations, such as dealing with divorce or the reappearance of an absent father, mixed in with their women’s fiction. I found the real life elements refreshing and realistic without being downers. I also found Carly’s new romance to have that same touch of realism. While there are some fairy tale moments (of romance, and a few modestly steamy scenes!) there is also a realness about Carly’s fear to accept Michael. I appreciated the way their relationship had the same turbulence that any real relationship would have.
Those who like pure romantic comedies may be disappointed with this book. Also, those who are strictly opposed to any kind of sex scenes may want to avoid Mercy. I, myself, do not go for overtly sexual scenes. I was pleased to find that these scenes were written in a tactful way and brought further meaning to the story rather than just to get the reader in a tizzy.
Overall, I rate Mercy 3 out of 4 stars. I’d rate it 3.5 if I could. The writing was a bit disjointed in some chapters, as I mentioned above, but the emotion conveyed throughout the story definitely deserved an extra half star. While this may not be the cheeriest of books, it was poignant and heartfelt and definitely worth reading.
If you’re looking for a good, lifelike story about the complexities of family, emotions, divorce and dealing with the past, I recommend Mercy. The humorous overtone will keep you smiling even as your heart aches along with Carly’s.
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