Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shades of Mercy by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivendara - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Shades of Mercy
River North; New Edition edition (September 1, 2013)
Anita Lustrea
Caryn Rivendara


Authentic. That’s the word heard over and over when women describe Anita Lustrea. She is a popular speaker at women’s conferences and retreats, and an amazing communicator as co-host of the award winning Midday Connection radio broadcast. Her deep desire is to communicate freedom to women and help them nurture and care for their soul. Anita is the co-author of “Come to Our Table: A Midday Connection Cookbook” and “Daily Seeds from Women Who Walk in Faith”, a Devotional for women. Her first solo venture as an author releases in November, 2010, “What Women Tell Me: finding freedom from the secrets we keep.” Anita and her husband, Mike Murphy, a pastor, along with her teenage son John live in the Chicago suburbs. When she’s not traveling or speaking, you can find her reading and drinking a venti hot tea at her local Starbucks.


Caryn is a sought-after writer and speaker. She’s the author of four books—Shades of Mercy: A Maine Chronicle (River North, September 2013), Known & Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms (Revell, April 2013), Grumble Hallelujah (Tyndale House, September 2011), and Mama’s Got a Fake I.D. (WaterBrook Press, March 2009)–and a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.Meneutics as well as columnist for Re:Frame Media’s ThinkChristian blog. She has written dozens of magazine article. Her work has appeared in such publications as Christianity Today, Relevant, FamilyLife, and Engineering and Mining Journal (you read that right). Caryn leads workshops and speaks at conferences and church groups across the country. She’s also a regular guest on Moody Radio’s Midday Connection with Anita Lustrea and Melinda Schmidt and has been featured on such radio shows as The John and Kathy Show, Changing Worldviews/WOMANTalk with Sharon Hughes, I Thought She Said with Faith Daly, The Paul Edwards Program with Paul Edwards, and Talk from the Heart with Rich Buhler, among many others. Caryn also appeared on The Harvest Show. Caryn earned a B.A. in English from Calvin College and attended the University of Chicago’s publishing program. She lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Rafael, her three kids, a rescued pit bull terrier, two hermit crabs, and several tank fulls of who-knows-what-kind-of fish. Caryn and her family are members of Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church in Elmhurst, Illinois, where Caryn recently joined the worship staff.

It's 1954 and the world-even the far Northwoods of Maine-is about to change. But that change can't happen soon enough for fourteen-year-old Mercy Millar. Long tired of being the "son" her father never had, Mercy's ready for the world to embrace her as the young woman she is-as well as embrace the forbidden love she feels.  When childhood playmates grow up and fall in love, the whole community celebrates. But in the case of Mercy and Mick, there would be no celebration. Instead their relationship must stay hidden. Good girls do not date young men from the Maliseet tribe. At least, not in Watsonville, Maine. When racial tensions escalate and Mick is thrown in jail under suspicion of murder, Mercy nearly loses all hope-in love, in her father, and in God himself.

My Thoughts:
When so much hate fills your heart, you can make a leap to any conclusion.  You don’t need the truth because you are above the truth.”  (p. 95)

Mercy is fifteen and deeply in love with her lifelong friend, Mick.  Mick is a Maliseet Indian, and the romance that buds between these two characters must remain hidden – at least for now.  Mick keeps promising Mercy “someday” things will be different, and then when a young lady from the community elopes with a Maliseet the true colors of the community’s racism is revealed.  The firestorm that descends on the small community in Maine’s Northwoods in 1954 is the beginning of fundamental change, but the price it exacts on the people is both profound and very painful.

I am tempted to classify this as young adult fiction because of the ages of the main characters in the story.  It is definitely a coming of age story for Mercy, and Mick even states her naivety on page 42 when he says, “For a smart girl, you don’t understand much about the world, do you?”  Racism and its winds of change were blowing through the country around the Black and White community.  However, the Maliseet tribe in Maine was forced to face its own crisis and make some changes that they had remained resistant to for generations.  The nuances of those changes are reflected in all of the character’s lives, and the reader looks upon all of those changes through the eyes of Mercy.  (that name is, indeed purposeful!)

You will grow to love the people of Mercy’s family and her extended community.  You will see mercy and grace lived out by her parents and through her own life choices.  You will ache for all of the community when the trials grow severe and urgently press upon their hearts and minds.  The end of the story is both satisfying and abrupt.  I say that because I would have enjoyed the journey from where Shades of Mercy ends and where the epilogue picks up. (Okay, I love a good series!) But as a stand- alone novel, this story is beautifully and thoughtfully written.  I am happy to recommend this book to everyone!!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Shades of Mercy, go HERE.

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