Title: Book of Mercy
Author: Sherry Roberts
Publication date: September 2011
Category : Fiction/Contemporary Women/ Humor/Relationships
The Book of Mercy is a truly beautiful, heart-warming novel on book censorship, the nature of love, motherhood and friendship. I loved this book from the first page to the end, which had me in tears of joy – I’m a softy.
When a group of influential women decide to remove “undesirable” books from the school library, Antigone Brown, a woman with dyslexia who keeps a stone in her pocket to help her remember right from left and despairs of ever being a good mother to her unborn child stands up for people’s rights to determine what they will read rather than having a bunch of self appointed guardians of local morality do it for them. Antigone ponders: how do we protect our children from the world but save the world for our children?
The story strips the issue of censorship down to its bare bones of power and control through showing us the differing perspectives and personalities of the main characters. The characters of Antigone, Sam and Ryder are adorable with delightful quirks to give them plenty of pizzazz for someone like me who usually reads fantasy. Antigone has trouble reading road signs but is addicted to driving for long hours to escape from stressful situations and never gets lost – until she gets pregnant. Her husband Sam is directionally challenged – he gets lost all the time – and makes sculptures out of old car parts while waiting for his wife to return. Ryder is a run away teen that Antigone picks up and brings home like a stray cat. His story adds a wonderful extra layer on the meaning of family and friendship and provides additional drama in his background and challenges.
There’s some delightful surprises in this tale. I particularly loved the role of the stray cat (a real cat, not Ryder) who appears briefly early on, then makes a cheer rousing return later. The ending is perfect and the writing exquisite, I recommend it for everyone and give it 5 stars.
The author says:
“This novel is inspired by an actual book challenge that occurred in my daughter’s high school in North Carolina,” Roberts says. “She came home one day and said, ‘Mom, they’re banning books!’ A parent complained about The Old Gringo by Carlos Fuentes, and the school took it out of circulation. Eventually, the book was returned to the library shelves, after a public meeting and a review committee assessment. However, in the process, the English teacher resigned.
“What I learned in writing this book and in raising my daughters is that books can never be allowed to disappear from the shelves without a squeak. We must say something; explode the discussion in letters, e-mails, tweets, and public meetings. We must never let censorship dissolve into the dark.”
To read an excerpt of Book of Mercy: www.sherry-roberts.com/sherrys-books/the-ban-of-the-month-club-excerpt-from-book-of-mercy