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Shades of Mercy Paperback – September 1, 2013
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Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira have joined together to write a compelling story of civil rights, racial equality, and coming of age in 1954 Maine. Mercy Millar lives on a farm where she helps with all the farm chores. In fact, her father calls her the "son he never had." Her father often hires Maliseets (the local Native-American tribe) to help with farm work and pays them well for their work. One of the Maliseets is Mick, who is in love with Mercy. This is their story as told by Mercy to her granddaughter Laurel.
An assortment of townspeople round out the story as it unfolds. Mercy's best friend Molly Carmichael has a sister who has run away with a Maliseet, and this makes Molly's father hate the Maliseets to the point that he seeks revenge by falsely accusing Mick of murder. Mercy's father calls his attorney-brother to come and help Mick out, but it takes two weeks for the whole episode to straighten itself out. In the meantime, Hurricane Edna hits the town, and Mick's brother pulls Molly's father out of his store when he becomes trapped.
There are so many intricate points to the plot of this book that they keep the reader involved LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG after bedtime. These two authors have collaborated to bring about a book that will not leave readers after they finish it. This book fits in a class with Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird.
You can find an interview with the authors here.
Five Stars, Two Thumbs Up, and farm fresh produce. I cannot recommend this book enough. No reader will regret it.
-Becky Guinn, August 22, 2013
Shades of Mercy by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira is set in the 1950's on a farm in Maine, three topics I love to read about. It's not another fluffy romance, but rather digs deep into the racial tensions of the townspeople and the Indian Tribe of the Maliseets.
The book flowed along perfectly. The Christian slant to this book flows nicely as well, without being preachy at all except for a chapter in the middle. The romance aspect of the book actually seemed realistic, unlike most romance books. A few things didn't quite add up for me, such as the town's people not liking the Maliseets at all and yet loving the food of a new chef in town, who had a Maliseet working in the kitchen, but I often find little things in books like that which bother me so it isn't held against this book.
I must admit, I read half the book the very day I received it and grabbed moments throughout the next day in order to find out how the book ended. It kept my attention the whole time and I enjoyed the characters. The ending leaves me wondering if this will be the first book in a series as it did end a bit abruptly.
-Elizabeth, November 29, 2013, www.trenchesofmommyhood.blogspot.com
Not many of us think about racial tension and inequality in generations so recent we can still touch the lines upon their faces; some of them haven’t even grayed. Shades of Mercy, by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira, sheds light upon those obscured years.
Set in the 1950s, Shades of Mercy, is a refreshingly sweet romance, grounded in the gritty truth of harsh farm life in rural Maine. Fifteen-year-old, Mercy, is of well respected stock, working diligently as the “son her father never had”, on their successful farm in Watsonville, Maine. Her family loves her and her parents are devout Christians raising their daughter to have strong biblical morals, and especially to have a respect for all human life, no matter what their race. So it’s only a minor problem that she’s fallen in love with Mick, a young Maliseet Indian. At least, it’s only a minor problem in Mercy’s imagination.
Shadesof Mercy is a touching story...
-Abby Kelly, December 17, 2013, www.predatory-lies.com
The critical crisis in Shades of Mercy revolves around deeply rooted racial injustices, prejudices and tensions between whites and American Indians. Here is where the book shines. More Maliseet characters walk onto the stage, and you get a glimpse into their lives, the injustices they’ve suffered for generations, the unhealthy way they’ve responded. You see the town’s people marginalize them farther afield.
I particularly liked one description of prayer, as explained by Mercy’s mom to Mercy’s friend, Molly Carmichael. “I just took the words that were pent up in my heart and spilled them out into the ear of God. You know any of us can do that. He is always waiting for us to be with Him.” That line right there made me glad to have read Shades of Mercy..
-Evelyn Bence, December 18, 2013,www.bookreporter.com
Shades of Mercy resounded with me. As a Chinese-American, I felt the racism and the prejudices of being different as a child. I don't remember as clearly, but in second grade, the teacher turned the whole class against me. She couldn't stand that I was different from her. She treated me like an outsider, and so did the whole class.
When I read that Mick and the Masileet tribe was under the same prejudices, I just felt for them. In some parts of the country, like South Carolina, there are still prejudices against people with different skin colors other than the superior white skin.
I liked how Mercy and her family treated the Masileets with respect and dignity, even though no one else thought to. They showed everyone mercy and compassion and that's how God's glory can shine through us.
-Rhyan Wong, January 1, 2014, www.creazian.blogspot.com
A good book, and as good as I had hoped it would be. It’s about the conflict between the whites and the Indians in Maine – I had no idea they had this kind of tension there in the 1950s! This book provided a fascinating look at some complicated situations that seemed true to life. It’s a growing up story about a young girl of 16 and her Indian boyfriend. The book was full of good writing, and had an excellent story – I would read more, either in this series or by these authors. I especially loved the description of a food pantry in Mercy’s house – it reminded me of the luscious food descriptions in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book, Farmer Boy. I’m a sucker for food descriptions. ;) But this was a heartwarming and sweet story!
-Charity U-Austenite, January 7, 2014, www.austenitis.blogspot.com/
I'm always drawn to stories with Native American content. Learning that this was one of those books, I knew I had to read it. The storyline deals with how the Maliseet were mistreated and the prejudice that was shown to them.
There is a romance within this story, and while the story actually revolves largely around this romance, it still isn't the main focus, in my opinion. This is, more than anything, a sweet "coming of age" story. While I definitely consider it a young adult book, I do think it can be enjoyed by many adults, too.
Shades of Mercy was a relaxing read for me, even with the tough issues tackled. I enjoyed my time within its pages!
-Tammy Shelnut, December 20, 2013, www.bluerosesheart.blogspot.com/
The best part about the book was it’s everyday feel. The story felt genuine to the time period and the issues and it was a nice slice of life piece on Mercy herself. Nothing was overly dramatic but there was still tension in the story to keep you reading forward to learn the fate of Mercy and the town as whole. The pacing switched from perfect to a little to slow a few times throughout but not enough to cause any disinterest.
The biggest problem I had was the first person. I think the novel suffered not having an omniscient POV. Everything felt very biased and centered as nothing else was represented except how Mercy felt.
-Alexis Ostrow, January 28, 2014, http://lbookbliss.com
Shades of Mercy is a story of hope, respect, and honor intertwined with God’s truth, mercy, and love. As I first began to read this book, I was skeptical. I live on Colville Confederated Tribal Land in Washington State and am married to a tribal member. I thought this book might be written by those who are not really familiar with tribal issues, Native way of life, and prejudices. I was pleasantly surprised that the authors had done their homework and made the Native concerns authentic, and respectful. This was a pleasant read with strong characterization and convictions.
-Carmen Peone, www.carmenpeone.com, January 24, 2014
"Shades of Mercy is a sweet story that gently takes you into the small sleepy community of Watsonville, Maine during a time of racial turmoil at the opposite end of the country. It is a story that opens up a period of history that little has been written or spoken about in the United States. This story has intrigued me to further research the Maliseet tribe.
Although forbidden, the love story has you cheering for Mercy and Mick to overcome their personal difficulties and follow through in their young blossoming romance. This book was enjoyed on a Sunday afternoon in one sitting. The clean content would be enjoyed by teens through adults."
-Ruth Kaup, www.composedbygrace.blogspot.com, February 3, 2014
Shades of Mercy is a touching coming of age story. Mercy lives in Maine on her parents farm. At 15, her life long friendship with Mick changes into something more. Then tragic events and old prejudices rear their ugly heads and life changes forever.
Such a touching read. The prejudices present in this book are still around today in one form or another. And so much of the lessons learned can be applied to everyone's lives. This is a great book for a book club or even in a class.
-Laura Pratt, http://www.hentownmama.com/, February 7, 2014
This was a wonderful, coming-of-age read. In addition, it was historical fiction, which is one of my favorite genres. The story covers a period of time in Maine's history when native Maliseets (among other Indian tribes) had been pushed out of their homes and land and into terrible living conditions, and then the push to restoration. It's not a part of American history I was familiar with, and so I found the story all the more fascinating.
Not your typical boy-meets-girl romance fluff -- Shades of Mercy was a wonderful, thoughtful read and left me wanting more. Based on the prologue and the epilogue (the epilogue completely took me by surpr
“Shades of Mercy transports you back to a simpler time, idyllic Maine backdrops, and all the complications of racial tension and forbidden love. You’ll cheer for the heroine and fall in love with the hero—a perfect recipe for a sweet, enduring read.”
—Mary DeMuth, speaker and author of The Muir House
“A glorious coming-of-age tale that captures the scenic beauty of Maine as well as the ugly underbelly of racism. I felt transported but saw a mirror of our current day. You will adore this tenderly told love story—a love story expressed on many different levels.”
—Chris Fabry, bestselling author and radio personality
“The human dynamics in a small town American community with a racially diverse population can be challenging. Some people walk with blinders on; others turn a cheek to the problem of social injustice. . . . Racism is often not easily identifiable or understood. Shades of Mercy highlights problems of the past that in some cases still exist, but also presents hope for a better future of understanding.”
—Brian Reynolds, Tribal Administrator, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians
“Through the vivid lens of two lives set in small-town America, Anita and Caryn capture the heart of one of our biggest pieces of unfinished business: our relationship with First peoples. Anita and Caryn create with pitch-perfect detail the struggles and triumphs of the Maliseet people caught in a world of bigotry, suspicion, and ignorance—and just enough nobility to keep hope alive. A book that both instructs and entertains, but above all inspires.”
—Mark Buchanan, author of Your Church Is Too Safe
“Shades of Mercy is a re-creation of small town America complete with its warmth and innocence and a frothy brew of secrets. Tough moral and spiritual questions are faced head-on in this sweet tale of love and friendship.”
—Donna VanLiere, NY Times bestselling author of The Good Dream
“With an intimate, engaging voice, a budding young woman named Mercy extends compassion for the vestiges of the once proud Maine Maliseet, a Native American tribe short on resources yet long on wisdom and appreciation for beauty. A heartwarming tale—of the real meaning of grace—that stays with you. We need more stories about the intersection of Christianity and Native Americans, and this one is dignified and wonderful.”
—Linda S. Clare, author of The Fence My Father Built and A Sky without Stars
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SHADES OF MERCY is an historical snapshot of life in a small Maine farm town in the mid-1950s. Mercy is the name of the teenage character through whose eyes the story is told, but God's mercy is the main theme of this very touching novel. The author(s) skillfully addresses "adult" issues like love and prejudice, as well as repentance and conversion, but without resorting to silliness or sordid graphic description, so that this book is appropriate for reading and discussion in mixed company by high school classes, as well as adult book clubs. I especially liked the positive collaboratve interactions depicted between characters of both Baptist and Catholic Christian traditions.
I noted only a very few copy errors in punctuation, and one instance of inconsistent point-of-view, though not enough to dock the book a star, in my opinion. Thank you for such a lovely, satisfying story!
The story begins in what the reader can only presume is modern day. Mercy's granddaughter, Laurel, is on her way to New York to see her. But mostly she wants to see New York the way her grandfather knew New York before he passed away. Mercy thinks to herself that it would be better to take her to Maine where Laurel's grandfather came to be the man that he was. Knowing they don't have the time to do that, Mercy decides to tell Laurel their story. The story of 15 year old Mercy and 16 year old Mick, a Maliseet Indian. The story of their forbidden love. And that is where the real story begins.
Mercy and Mick are always talking about "someday". Someday, Mercy's dad will finally realize she isn't the son he never had but a young beautiful daughter. Someday, Mercy and Mick can finally be together without hiding their relationship. Someday, they will leave Maine and see more of the world. Will their someday come?
One thing I enjoy when I read historical novels is when I can learn something. In Shades of Mercy the reader learns of the prejudices people of Maine had against the Maliseet tribe. It's really sad that because their skin was a different color they were made to live in a garbage dump. Yes, you read that right. They lived in the Flats which were nothing more than shacks built over the dump. My heart went out to them. Reading about them made me want to find out more about the tribe to find out how things got better for them.
The authors of Shades of Mercy are new to me. At first, I didn't know whether I would enjoy reading a book in first person, but I found that the character of Mercy pulled me in and made me feel as if I was right there with her. I grew to love the character of Mercy. I grew to love Mick as well and found myself continually rooting for them. I wanted them together. I wanted their world to change for the better.
Shades of Mercy is a heartwarming story of young love during a time of racial prejudice. It is a story that shows the real meaning of grace. It also shows the ugly side of racism. It is filled with love, friendship and hope. All in all this book touched me deeply.
I would highly recommend Shades of Mercy to anyone who enjoys reading historical novels. Be prepared though as the authors did an excellent job of showing us what it must have been like in Northern Maine during this time in our Nation's history.
On a 5-Star Scale - 4 Stars!!!!
I would like to thank the publishers River North, a division of Moody Publishers for my copy of Shades of Mercy. I received my copy for free in order to read it and give my honest review, which I have done.
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