Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in the 1930s. The sheltered daughter of a traveling preacher, she chooses to leave her rural community to move to nearby Bay City on the warm, gulf-waters of southern Alabama. There she finds a job at the local paper and spends seven years making herself indispensable to old Doc Philips, the publisher and editor. Then she gets a frantic call at dawn—it’s the biggest news story of her life, and she can’t print a word of it.
Doc has come into possession of a curious book that maps the lives of everyone in Bay City—decisions they’ve made in the past, and how those choices affect the future. Mercy and Doc are consumed by the mystery locked between the pages—Doc because he hopes to right a very old wrong, and Mercy because she wants to fulfill the book’s strange purpose. But when a mystery from Mercy’s past arrives by train, she begins to understand that she will have to make choices that will deeply affect everyone she loves—forever.
I'm always looking for good literary books in Christian fiction. It's a genre that I don't think has caught on too well because most Christian fiction readers like reading books that are more categorized like suspense, Amish or romance. I personally like literary fiction in Christian books because these are the books I feel I can recommend most to readers who aren't normally Christian fiction readers. This story from River Jordan has now joined the ranks of those books.
The story is richly descriptive and made me feel as if I had entered a 1930s small town during the Great Depression. The characters are engaging and well developed. I really liked Mercy's character and how she was treated in the story. She's a young woman in small town who helps to run the local paper. This is quite unusual for the time period as most women are helping to stay at home and raise families. Yet throughout the story, everyone treats her with respect and doesn't treat her inferior because of her gender or choices in life. The main focus of the book deals with a magic book. It's not entirely magical but it gives a lot of insight into the main characters and plays a huge role into their lives as they look back into the past and on towards the future. The presence of the book fits naturally in the story. It seems realistic even though something like it wouldn't exist in real life.
While I enjoyed the story, I felt that near the end the story fell a little flat. There's nothing really wrong with the plot or style of writing but it just felt a bit ho-hum to me. I guess maybe I would have liked a bit more story about John's past instead of just recollections from others. I also would have liked to have known more about the magic book. Other than this, I did enjoy my first read from River Jordan. It's a good mix of literary and historical fiction with a touch of magic realism. Everything is blended well and the outcome is a really good story that I can recommend with others. It's not a light read but a good and contemplative story. I'll be looking forward to going back and reading her past books as well as any future ones.
The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan is published by Waterbrook (2010)
This review copy was provided by the publisher
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