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Mercy Come Morning: A Novel Paperback – August 16, 2011
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Praise for MERCY COME MORNING
“Mercy Come Morning is Lisa Bergren’s best yet! Strong characters dealing with passionate life-and-death issues in a Southwest setting so authentic I could taste the chilies and smell the sage. A compelling story of longing, love, and the search for life.… It’s a story to meet the need in every woman’s heart.”
—JANE KIRKPATRICK , author of A Name of Her Own and the Kinship and Courage series
“Bergren just keeps getting better. Mercy Come Morning is a deeply moving story of love lost and found. It is also a gentle but compelling invitation to remember the things we should know by heart but often forget along the way.”
—CAROLYN ARENDS, recording artist and author of We’ve Been Waiting for You
“Lisa Bergren writes like a dream, softly calling us to familiar places, walking us through our memories in grandma’s kitchen, past the disappointments of growing up, and through the complexities of imperfect families. Mercy Come Morning is a timeless tale, to be kept every day in the heart as a reminder that forgiveness is a gift to self and joy the glittering residue left upon our doorpost when Christmas is kept every day of the year.”
—PATRICIA HICKMAN, author of Sandpebbles and Katrina’s Wings
From the Inside Flap
Krista Mueller admitted her mother to the care facility run by Dane McConnell-Krista's friend and former love-knowing that Dane could take better care of Charlotte than Krista ever could. Besides, Krista has long since stopped actively caring about the woman who has hurt her so deeply through the years. Her intention is never to see her mother again. Then Dane informs Krista that he has found something of her mother's that Krista simply must see.
Unable to refuse the man who still means so much to her, Krista sets out for Taos-thoroughly unprepared for the dramatic journey of discovery that leads to a deeper understanding of the mother who emotionally abandoned her and brings back to the lost love of her youth.
A story of joy and loss, connection and forgiveness, "Christmas Every Morning presents each day as a gift to be opened and every loved one as a treasure to be rediscovered. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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"She's Dying, Krista."
I took a long a long, slow breath. "She died a long time ago, Dane."
These are the opening words in the prologue of Mercy Come Morning, a book that had me spellbound from the beginning, and actually just from reading the back cover copy. I knew this was a book I had to read, because I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's.
Krista never had the kind of relationship with her mother that she longed for so, when she left her in the Alzheimer's Care Home run by her high school sweetheart, she rarely visited. Three times in five years. She saw no point in visiting any more than that.
But now has come the call that will change everything, when she decides to go visit, and stay for as long as needed, because of her mother being on her deathbed. She leaves her college classes in the capable hands of her assistant, and drives from Colorado to New Mexico to go visit her mother, even though she won't remember her. Dane has told her there is something they found that she must see.
The day she arrives, December 12, is the day her quick journey of learning more about her mother begins, with her memories filling in the gaps.
Throughout the next several days until Christmas, her days are filled with longing, anger, and realizing there was more to her mother than met her eyes. Her friend, Elena,with whom she stays, while in Taos, has many words of wisdom to offer. "Silver is much like us.... It needs to be refined by fire before it becomes the beautiful metal that we love. Your mother went through many fires, dear one."
Krista sees no beauty in her mother - all she remembers is a woman who didn't love her and who was a "bitter old woman before her time. Those fires made her a burned out coal of a woman, not something beautiful."
"It takes coal some pressure and time to make a diamond," [Elena] said.
I sat back and looked at her, then out the window. "If there's a diamond deep inside, I never saw a glimpse of it."
She rose then. "You better start mining then, child. Time is short."
On another occasion this conversation takes place between Krista and Elena as they are at Elena's loom together:
"Your mother knew me and loved me, and I, her. There was much that was hurt in that woman from an early time. She was like a prickly pear cactus--showing her gray scars but continuing to grow."
I contemplated her words for a moment. "I thought she just stopped growing when she got hurt."
Elena shook her head. "No, mi hermanita. We never stop growing, no matter how much we might want to. Pain might change the direction of our growth, but we keep on as long as we live." She shrugged. "It is the way God made us. Like adobe one layer after another."
As Krista's journey continues, she learns not only about her mother, but about herself as well... but I better stop before I give too much away!
This book is a definite must read. It left me reflecting on my relationship with my own mom and with a sense of what may happen with my friend, and how I can be with her as the disease progresses.
Krista returns to New Mexico when it appears that her mother is nearing the end of her life. As Krista awaits the inevitable, she discovers her mother's diary of sorts, a weathered copy of "Christmas Carols of the World." (I don't believe there is an actual book--or at least I couldn't find evidence of a copy, but here's a similar title: Christmas Carols From Around The World.) Inside, Krista's mother has written sporadically, giving Krista a window to a past that she does not remember fondly at all.
Throughout Krista's journey to forgiveness--for that is indeed the driving force of the novel--, she has three sources of strength. The first is Doña Elena, a longtime friend and amazing source of support. The second is Dane, with whom she may or may not be rekindling a long-dormant romance. The third is God, in whom Krista puts increasingly more faith. All three of these relationships play a vital role in Krista's life during the story.
I found the plot generally effective though at times predictable, and the characters realistic. I do not thing this novel is great literature, but it is effective in its sensitive portrayal of the difficulties in forgiving and letting go.
Mercy Come Morning is a touching story of the lives Krista, her mother Charlotte who has Alzheimers, and Dane, who runs the nursing home where Charlotte lives.
Oh yeah...and Dane just happens to be an old flame of Krista's.
When Charlotte takes a turn for the worse, Krista comes back to Taos, New Mexico to face her mother, and her demons from the past. Krista struggles with feelings toward her mother that stem from a feeling of being unloved by her mother. But when Dane gives Krista an old hymnal that served as a diary of her mother, she begins to learn that the woman she had never heard "I love you" from really did love her.
Throughout the story, which is a story of redemption, forgiveness and restoration, we are transported back into snippets of Krista's childhood to understand why she feels the way she does toward her mother, who at this point, doesn't even recognize her own daughter.
Mercy Come Morning was a heartfelt and tender story, that teaches us that withholding forgiveness and letting bitterness rule our lives only does more harm to us. We need to let go of the bitterness, forgive the wrongs, and remember the joys that often get overpowered by the painful memories.
I really enjoyed Mercy Come Morning and look forward to reading another book my Lisa Bergren!
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And second chances.
I loved this book, I started reading and could not put it down!Read more