Monday, July 27, 2015

#Collaboreads: The Unraveling of Mercy Louis

It is joyfully (so freaking joyfully) that time of the month where we get together and review books because everyone loves reading and recommendations (or warnings to stay away from the ones that didn't measure up to expectations). If you missed what #Collaboreads is, you can familiarize yourself here

Short version: Rachel and I pick a random criteria for the book (i.e. Someone's name in the title). You pick your book and read it. Then the last Monday of the month we meet up and talk about our choices.

There's a R.E.A.D.S. review format that we've shared for suggestion's sake (shared in this post), but feel free to review however you're comfortable!

My book (as made obvious by the above photo) was The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parissinen. I'd tell you all about how I came to find the book, but that's all in my review and no one likes repetition. 

Time for the R.E.A.D.S. review
Again, if you need a reminder of how these go, check out this post

I only grabbed this book off the shelf at the library because it was on the new releases wall near the front entrance and it had Mercy Louis' name on the cover. Even when I tell myself that I'm not going to pick up any more than what's on hold for me at the counter, I end up coming home with an armful of books. My justification for this one was the name in the title and thus, it's fittingness for this month's #Collaboareads. 

The book had to be returned in two weeks. I always hate those books, always, because the pressure just makes me hate them. But I decided to dive in and I finished the book in three days flat. It was rich in language and character and especially in plot.

The ending had me in tears. Literally, I cried because nothing so beautiful could have been said.

I identified with Mercy, one of the two main characters, in that she is a high school athlete and raised in a very conservative town. She knows the throes of shame -partly caused by the hell fire and brimstone church in which she was raised- and the hunger to explore life beyond the basketball court, church pew, and stilted home she shares with her Maw Maw. 

The novel centers around the perceived consequences of sexual sin according to the conservative church. Being raised in the time of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye", I found myself angry over the guilt trip and deep shame involved in the church's efforts to keep its girls pure. I wanted to tell the high school girls in the novel all about their worth, about the way they're deeply and wonderfully treasured, about how decisions are important

This has been likened to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and, honestly, I understand the thought there, but I have to boldly disagree. I'd say it's more closely associated with or related to the myriad of novels that Jodi Piccoult has published -but specifically The Tenth Circle

It reminded me of a few books of my youth -Are You There God? It's Me Margaret, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants trilogy, Hard Love- in the way that they deftly deal with the transitions of girls into teens into women. All of these novels dance delicately and honestly on the line between girlhood and full blown adulting. 

The conservative church and small town vibe seemed to reflect my own upbringing -though my experience was much more mellow compared to that which is in the book. Current conversations about the way the church discusses sex and dating and encourages purity are reflected in the events that make this book equal parts terrifying and fascinating. 

I loved the nail art of the hands that are on the cover of the book. I know that has nothing to do with anything, but the nails on the girls' hands caught my eye with the Jamberry-style art. It screamed high school (though I'd shamelessly wear them #sorrynotsorry). 

The fraying rope so reminiscent of high school gym class couldn't have been more fitting for every part of the novel. Characters, plot, setting, time -every part of the book could easily be made visual by the rope with no feelings of lacking or missing. 


Four and a half stars. 

My only complaint -literally my single complaint- was the way so many of the issues weren't remotely resolved. I didn't need complete closure -I think books that wrap everything up perfectly can be boring- but there wasn't a shred of relief come the ending. The last four words were beautiful, chilling, and made tears burn my eyes, but there remained a half dozen other things I sincerely wanted to hear more about. 

I guess it's a selfish reading gripe, but this is my review right? 

And, because what's a link-up without a bunch of links? 

And for August, we read: 
See ya'll on August 31st!

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