Tuesday, April 10, 2018

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Sweet Mercy by Donald S. Smurthwaite


What do you remember, what is important, what do you simply let go, sand piling on sand, until only the important events and memories are left?

Much to the delight and good fortune of Arthur and Mary Bell, they were the proud parents of four strapping sons. Such a stroke of luck was vital to their survival on the Idaho plain, where every able-bodied young man was desperately needed to work the land. So when Mary gave birth to a baby girl, the family was befuddled. But they suffered no distress at the loss of another boy to help around the farm—they felt only absolute delight in their sweet Mercy May.

Now, a lifetime later, Mercy recounts with poignant fondness the tales of her childhood in her rugged Idaho town. Experience with the Bell family, friends, and neighbors and devastation of the Great Depression and the impact of years of war. From a dedicated farmer hit hard by despair to a good-hearted reverend to the gentle brothers who brought light during the darkest of times, each individual's story weaves a vital thread into the rich tapestry of one woman's incredible life.


To be honest, I wasn't really into this book at first.  It seemed kind of slow and the writing felt different.  But as I kept reading, I realized that this book isn't so much about Mercy May, although she's the main character, as it is about the community where she grew up during the Great Depression.  The story switches back and forth between the present day, where a 93-year-old Mercy May lives in a retirement community she calls a resort, and her childhood experiences of the past.  But along with telling Mercy May's story, the reader also gets to know her neighbors, her teacher, and her family.  The book really feels like the story of a time long ago when communities were full of people who actually knew and helped each other, rather than the individualistic societies of today.  As I continued to read I couldn't help but be touched by the struggles of these people on the Idaho plains.  Life was a struggle before the Great Depression, and become even more of one afterword.  But those who stayed still found a way to help each other, despite their own suffering and pain.  I couldn't help but be touched by their caring acts of kindness despite having very little themselves.  The book almost reads like a collection of short stories about the history of a hard time and place that was still home for those who lived there.


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