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Mercury Paperback – April 6, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 8 Up—Set in Nova Scotia, this book relates two coming-of-age stories in tandem, showing how the past interweaves with the present. In the present, Tara and her mother have lost their old farmhouse in a fire, and Tara's mother is struggling to support them from far away while Tara lives with relatives. She loved the old house and wants to rebuild it, but her mother is pressured to find a job elsewhere. In 1859, Josey, Tara's ancestor, falls in love with a gold dowser who has convinced her father to open a mine. Her mother, who has supernatural sight, is sure that the dowser means no good. The stories collide as Tara goes searching for the gold said to have been hidden on her property, and Josey's tale reveals how it came to be hidden. Elements of the supernatural echo in both settings as Josey experiences the same visions her mother has and Tara discovers that she has a knack for dowsing. Though the end of the story leaves things hanging for Tara and her mother, the actions that the girl takes to gain control of her destiny suggest that she will find a way to achieve her goals. The storytelling, both in words and pictures, brilliantly offers details from Canadian history and modern life. The dialogue varies from funny to poignant. An excellent graphic novel, particularly for fans of Faith Erin Hicks's The War at Ellsmere (Slave Labor, 2008).—Alana Joli Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Larson (Chiggers, 2008) won an Eisner Award for Special Recognition in 2007 and is establishing an oeuvre of thoughtful, girl-centric graphic novels that often feature touches of unobtrusive fantasy, lending a dreamy quality that helps characterize her distinctive storytelling style. Mercury tells two tales: one of Josey, who lives in a small Canadian town in 1859; and the other of her descendant, Tara, who has returned to the same town in 2009, a year after her house burned to the ground. Tenth-grader Tara’s burgeoning relationships and her difficulty reacclimating to her old school will be more identifiable than Josey’s forbidden courtship with itinerant prospector Asa, but the use of two time lines delineates the different eras’ outlooks on family and romance, which brings some immutable human truths into high relief. The gentle dose of magic realism doesn’t feel incongruous and underscores the powerful ways in which past touches present. The insights unfold leisurely, but patient readers will find themselves deeply invested. Comparisons to Craig Thompson’s Blankets (2003) wouldn’t be inappropriate, but Larson continues to perfect her own unique style and offers something the graphic format is sadly short on: a coming-of-age story for girls. Grades 9-12. --Jesse Karp --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 370L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416935886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416935889
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #527,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Timothy Lukeman TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Hope Larson's newest graphic novel is an absolute joy. It tells the parallel stories of two teenaged girls, Josey (1859) & Tara (2009), living in Nova Scotia. Tara is in fact descended from Josey; and Tara's former home, which has since burned down, was once Josey's home. Their stories, while very different in tone, are beautifully intertwined, with a touch of magic realism -- an old-fashioned tragedy for Josey, and a coming of age for Tara.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot, which unfolds very naturally, so that tossed-off comments in Tara's time illuminate Josey's past. What's history for Tara also foreshadows what's to come for Josey & her family, as they host a handsome young stranger in their home, who promises a treasure of gold waiting to be found ... but for Josey, the promise is one of love & marriage, as well.

The art is especially lovely & evocative. Larson uses a flowing, organic line that practically quivers on the page, imparting a certain dreamlike quality to the story. She has a delightful habit of adding tiny labels to details in a panel, avoiding the trap of mannered cuteness & adding a genuinely tender, magical touch. Yet the feeling of an everyday world, one we all know, is never lost. The story comes first, and the stylistic flourishes always serve the story.

This is marketed for younger readers, but it's that rare thing: a real all-ages book, one that can be enjoyed by adults as much as teens. Tara's & Josey's emotions ring true, whether a younger reader is experiencing them for the first time, or an older reader is remembering them from childhood. As much as I've loved her earlier work, starting with "Salamander Dream," I eagerly look forward to what she creates next!

Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karissa Eckert on March 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I got this book through the Amazon Vine program. It sounded like an interesting premise and I love graphic novels. Overall it was an interesting read with great illustration.

This book follows the stories of two young girls. Tara is a young girl in current times whose house has burnt down. She is struggling with starting at her new school and finds a pendant in her mom's old jewelry that is intriguing. Alternating with Tara's story is the story of Josey. Josey lived in the same area as Tara but in 1859. Josey has meet a handsome young man that promises to find gold on Josie's parents' farm and make the farm rich. As things progress the two stories become somewhat tied together.

I liked the illustrations a lot. Larson does an excellent job clearly picturing the actions of the characters, the frames are easy to follow and there is never any doubt about what she is trying to portray. To make the two stories easier to follow the frames telling Tara's story have a white background behind them and the frames telling Josey's story has a black background. Also any Canadian slang is clarified with asterisks below the frames. So overall very easy to follow and clear illustrating. The style of illustration is fairly minimalist with pictures done in black and white, no shades of gray. The drawings are not intricate but they are detailed enough to portray the landscape and background of the settings.

The story was intriguing. Josey's story is the more intriguing of the two as it focuses on Josey's relationship with a young man, Asa, and her family's quest to find gold. This story has more urgency to it and was more engaging than Tara's story. Tara's story was boring at points.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DJ Joe Sixpack HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Written and Illustrated by Hope Larson
(Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, 2010)
Another excellent graphic novel from up-and-coming artist Hope Larson (creator of "Chiggers," "Gray Horse" and "Salamander Dream") Working in rich, thickly-lined black-and-white, Larson is a master of understatement, crafting emotionally resonant, compulsively readable, pleasingly intelligent stories. As with her other works, the emphasis here is more on the "novel" aspect, less on the "graphic," in this mix of Gothic romance and modern young-adult tween-teen fare. "Mercury" tells the story of a star-crossed Nova Scotian family whose secrets and downfall span three centuries, in which a fortune is found, lost, and found again, and with it the romantic dreams of two young girls whose lives are generations apart. Larson skillfully doles out details, waiting until the very end for explanations and resolution -- and as with the best literature, the journey is perhaps more important than the destination. Indeed, the main character of Tara Fraser is immensely appealing, and I was sorry to see her go after the all-too-quick ending.

If you are looking for comicbooks that value intelligence and originality over formula and violence, this is a very good choice. Great teen reading; adults will appreciate it too! (DJ Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain book reviews)
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Format: Paperback
Mercury weaves together past and present as parallel stories unfold. In 1859, farm girl Josey's family is visited by a Asa, a charming young Australian man, who reveals that he has located gold on their farm. In the present, Tara, Josey's look-alike and descendant, deals with the aftermath of the family farm burning down and misses her mother as she reintegrates with high school after two years of home schooling.

Josey's family seems to have the chance of good-fortune, assuming Asa is right about the gold. Asa courts Josey and seems to have good intentions, despite a mysterious and possibly shady past. Josey's mother is extremely suspicious. She has some psychic abilities and sees bad omens, but is also a nag, so you can't be sure she doesn't see exactly what she's looking for.

Tara's family seems to be doing badly. Tara sleeps on the floor in her cousin's bedroom and wears donated clothing which results in her being mistaken for a boy on her first day at school. Her mother has taken a job in a distant city and wants to relocate with Tara when finances are better, meanwhile Tara is very upset at the prospect of selling the farm land which has been in the family for 100s of years.

As the story progresses, Josey and Tara both see visions like Josey's mother describes. Both have the sight and have a little more guidance as their fortunes unfold.

This is an engaging comic book which had me hooked. The time shifting and psychic visions are done in a way that feels natural and moody, and not at all cheesy. The feel of the story is realistic. Josey's family argues, and she fools around with her friends. Tara argues with her mother and jokes around with her friends from school. Any given page is realistic with a little bit of tongue in cheek.
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