Book 53 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from June 21 - 30
The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen
Summary (via Goodreads)
In Port Sabine, the air is thick with oil, superstition reigns, and dreams hang on making a winning play. All eyes are on Mercy Louis, the star of the championship girls’ basketball team. Mercy seems destined for greatness, but the road out of town is riddled with obstacles. There is her grandmother Evelia, a strict evangelical who has visions of an imminent Rapture and sees herself as the keeper of Mercy’s virtue. And then there are the cryptic letters from Charmaine, the mother who abandoned Mercy at birth.
At the periphery of Mercy’s world floats team manager Illa Stark, a lonely wallflower. Like the rest of the town, Illa is spellbound by Mercy’s beauty and talent, but a note discovered in a gym locker reveals that Mercy’s life may not be as perfect as it appears.
The last day of school brings the disturbing find, and as summer unfolds and the police investigate, every girl becomes a suspect. At the opening game of the season, Mercy collapses—and Evelia prophesies that she is only the first to fall. Soon other girls are afflicted by the same mysterious condition, sending the town into a tailspin and bringing Illa and Mercy together in an unexpected way.
The pages turned quickly. It was an unusual technique to not just alternate between people but also points of view. Mercy's sections were all first person and Illa's were all third person. However, it worked and was especially helpful in the beginning when I was still learning the characters and how to distinguish between them.
I was hesitant beforehand about how religious Mercy's grandmother was and how much it would play into the book. After reading it, I didn't have anything to worry about. It was essential to her character but there were other characters to balance her out and it didn't turn into a mystical "prayer fixes everything" kind of story.
Illa (a female) thought romantically about both Mercy (a female) and Lennox (a male) but it's not made into a big deal. It was nice to just have it thrown in as something some kids have on their minds as they think about relationships.
There were a lot of things going on in this book - the baby, Mercy, her mom, Illa's mom, the mysterious illness, Y2K, etc. The reason I knocked it down to 3 stars is because one of those big things wasn't resolved at all for me. It either wasn't mentioned or wasn't clear to me as I was reading; either way, that loose end hung over me and left me unsatisfied.
A Few Quotes from the Book
"In earth science, we learned that the sky isn't actually blue, its color a trick of light scattering as it passes through the atmosphere. Sometimes science ruins things. I wish I could unlearn this, but once a mystery is gone, it's gone."
"Such a funny thing, shame, that in the scramble to avoid it, you forget who has the right to shame you in the first place."