Sunday, February 27, 2011

THE SHAPE OF MERCY by Susan Meissner

When Lauren answers a simple ad requesting transcription services, she has no idea how much the job will change her - and the lens through which she sees the world. Lauren spends a few evenings a week transcribing a 300-year-old journal written by a young woman who witnessed the Salem witch trials - and became a victim before it was over. The deeper Lauren digs into Mercy Hayworth's story, the more she is overwhelmed and moved by the woman's heroic acts. And the more Lauren understands, the more she realizes that just like Salem's citizens, she too passes judgement on others without considering truth first.

This book captured my imagination with its promising premise. What was it really like for a young woman who had her future ripped away from her because of hysteria and the accusation of witchcraft? Written within the safety of a journal, what might she say? I quickly found myself caught up in this story and read it over a weekend. I found the subplots compelling and wondered how this story would end - even though I know Mercy Hayworth would meet a timely end. But what of journal's new owner, an elderly woman with long-hidden secrets? What is she hiding?

Ultimately, this book has me wondering about how easily I judge others and how quickly I make a determination about the lives of others. I've never thought much about judging others, always assuming that I don't. Now I'm not so sure, and it'll be on my mind for a while.

I struggled a little with the ending and how the author justified a particular action as an act of mercy and love. Although I may not agree with the conclusion, I was captivated by this unique plot and enjoyed my escape into Susan Meissner's story.

3.5 out of 5

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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