Shades of Mercy by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira ~ A Historical Fiction Review

Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira
Historical Fiction

Back of the book: 

. . . her father will see Mercy for the young woman she has become.
. . . Mercy and Mick can move their relationship out from the shadows.
. . . Mercy will leave Maine's Northwoods for the world outside.

Although other parts of the country were changing, the Maliseets of Maine's Northwoods were still relegated to shanties on the local garbage dump. Those who found work were farmhands, not bosses. And, of course, a Maliseet boy could never date the farmer's daughter. Not ever.

All of that began to change in 1954. As racial tensions escalate, Mercy and her Maliseet boyfriend find it nearly impossible to hold on to their someday dream . . . then disaster strikes, looking surprisingly like the grace of God.

My thoughts:

This book has been described as a sweet coming-of-age story and I would wholeheartedly agree with that. The two main characters, Mercy and Mick, are young teenagers and they are in love. The problem is that society frowns upon the relationship. 

The timeframe is the mid 50s during the era of Brown vs The Board of Education. While things are changing in other parts of the country, the deep seeded prejudice that grips the small town of Watsonville, Maine is alive and well. Mercy is the daughter of a well respected area farmer but Mick is from the disparaged Maliseet tribe. In the eyes of most in the town the two classes do not mix.

In a very gentle way the story of the area's history is revealed. We are allowed to see how a tiny seed of bitterness and resentment can blossom into a tree full of anger and revenge. Shades of Mercy shows the best and the worst of how we as humans treat each other. We get to cheer when a group of people begin to rally to change what is wrong even when it seems impossible.

I was completely enraptured with the characters and the scenarios that were presented in the novel. Anita and Caryn really captured the dynamics of a small town. I don't know that there will be a sequel, but I sure hope so. The story does come to a conclusion, but there are still areas that I would love to see resolved. I want to know more about these fabulous characters that have taken up residence in my heart.

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