Saturday, September 14, 2013

My Review of Shades of Mercy (CFBA Tour)

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 articles. 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.

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




Shades of Mercy is a gentle tale with an understated tension. While the focus and details feel fresh, the story itself feels familiar - sort of a "new classic" that highlights some important issues but does so in an inconspicuous and unassuming way. The country girl whose eyes are opened to the injustices of life as well as true hope...the rural community that struggles with its perception and treatment of those who are seen as different and possibly threatening...wrongful disputes...a time of change for everyone - it's all there. This is a very traditional story from the perspective of one girl on the verge of womanhood who observes the people she's grown up with and their need for varying shades of mercy.

The plot itself didn't overly impress me. There isn't a whole lot that happens, and the things that do are marked with a subtle strain that doesn't entirely engage. In some ways the story has its surprises, but sometimes I wished for deeper explorations of different characters. However, the writing itself - while sometimes feeling a tad bit "done before" - is really rather lovely. There are some great lines, and the simplicity of the era and the characters' lifestyles is rather charming, although the difficult realities and unkind attitudes are not glossed over.

For those who enjoy a quieter book with a "classic" feel, Shades of Mercy should satisfy - and if that hint of more recounting to come (in the epilogue) is ever fulfilled, there's potential for another, possibly more romantic "Maine Chronicle." I did like this book and the stroll through memories of another time, along with the timeless lessons. But this sort of story - with its unhurried pace and lack of energy and novelty - isn't really my cup of tea.

*With thanks to the publisher through CFBA for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*


Rina S said...

It isn't often that one finds books set in Maine. I might have to read it soley for that.
I nominated you for the Liebster Award. Keep up the insightful and thoughtful work!

Juju at Tales of said...

Great honest review doll.

Amber Stokes said...


That's quite true! Hope you enjoy it if you give it a shot. :)

And thanks so much for the nomination and encouragement! *Hugs* Just left a comment on your post. :)


Amber Stokes said...


Thank you so much, my friend! Appreciate you stopping by and checking out my reviews. :)