Sunday, December 23, 2007

BOOK: Mercy by Jodi Picoult

Mercy by Jodi Picoult
2nds Challenge
This book is suffering from second book syndrome. I read My Sister's Keeper first, which is the book by Picoult most often mentioned as her best book. Mercy was good, and a great read, but not as good as My Sister's Keeper, and then there were a few issues that niggled at me while I was reading it.

The Story: (from library journal - I find it hard to summarize plots succinctly)

Cameron MacDonald is both the chief of police in the Massachusetts village of Wheelock and the reluctant figurehead chieftain of the MacDonald clan, which immigrated there in the late 1700s. Thus it is to Cam that his cousin Jamie turns after he accedes to his suffering wife's wish and helps her to die. Cam, who longs to travel and free himself from his family obligation, arrests Jamie for first-degree murder but then hires a lawyer for him. On that same day, exotic young Mia wanders into the village and is hired by Cam's wife, Allie, to help out in her florist shop. Cam and Allie have reached a comfortable plateau in their marriage, but both sense that something is missing. Mia and Cam are irresistibly drawn to each other, she to his established place in local society and he to her itinerant lifestyle. The story explores love and the intricate balance of give and take that marriage demands.

The Good: Picoult writes her characters well, and keeps an objective viewpoint at the same time, so that every character has good and bad qualities, and it makes it hard to sympathize with any one character. I find myself undecided on the issues she raises - this book covers infidelity, grief, love, and euthanasia. I wasn't sure how things would turn out, and I wanted to find out where the story went. Lots of interesting characters and a compelling story and I liked the ending.

The Problems: I didn't think it would be realistic in the 1990s that immigrants from 200 years before would still have a clan chief who was continually referred to as such and that he would be responsible for the his clan. I thought it strained credulity that when Jamie came to town, Cam's family took him in and defended him when they didn't even know him, just that he was related. Picoult included a strand of magical events that I didn't mind, but I often find it hard to have these elements appear within a mostly realistic story. But the Gaelic culture includes ghosts and signs, so that wasn't a big deal.

Overall: good book, well written, not as good as My Sister's Keeper but I'll keep reading Picoult.

also reviewed by guatami tripathy


  1. I have this one on my TBR shelf to read someday along with several other Picoult books. I've enjoyed all the ones by her I've read so far, even ones I thought were better than My Sister's Keeper and yet Keeper is the one that definitely holds the most emotional punch.

    I have seen cultural traditions and social hierarchies remain a constant in certain groups for quite a while and so it isn't too hard for me to believe. I think a lot would depend on how well that particular group of people has assimilated within their "new" home. Two hundred years does seem to be a long time though, so I understand your doubting it as being possible. I'll probably know more about what you are referring to once I actually read the book. :-) Thanks for the review!

  2. I've only read My Sister's Keeper. I'd like to get to The Pact and Second Glance at some point.

    Merry Christmas!

  3. 2007 has been the year I discovered authors the rest of the world seems to have known for a while. Picoult was one of those names-- perhaps I'll read something of hers in 2008.

    Happy holidays!

  4. wendy - I'll wait for your review. It wasn't a problem, and I know why Picoult wanted that effect, it just seemed like they had come from the Highlands 20 years ago, not 200. Sometimes a little thing in a book can fixate in your mind, and then everytime it is mentioned you think - no way.

    michelle - She has some others I'd like to read as well, 19 Minutes and The Pact.
    Merry Christmas to you too!

    john - that's a good title for my year of reading as well - Gaiman, Picoult, Pullman. Where have we been?

  5. Picoult always manages to depress me and put me in a reading slump.

  6. tink - oh dear. I hope you've stopped reading her. That doesnt' sound good at all. I've only read two so far; I'll try another since I find her very readable and I get through a fairly big book quite quickly. But you should not read her anymore.

  7. Mercy is one of Picoult's that i haven't read yet - but i have read nine this year, starting with My Sister's Keeper. MSK remains my favorite, i think, although i really liked Salem Falls, The Pact, Vanishing Acts, and Nineteen Minutes too.


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