Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Review: The Miracle of Mercy Land

Waterbrook Multnomah is one of my favorite publishers to work with.  They're awesome about sending reminders and I've enjoyed reviewing the vast majority of books they've sent me.  So when I was asked to be on the blog your for The Miracle of Mercy Land, I jumped at the chance.  It's the story of a woman who works at a small town newspaper who, along with her mentor, Doc, finds a mysterious book that tells the secrets of everyone in the town.  It's listed as inspirational fiction, but honestly if I hadn't known the publisher I would have had no idea.  I would classify it as magic realism, except that makes it sound good.  Sadly, this one did not live up to my expectations.

The Writing:
No.  Just no.  We are talking plot holes as big as the Grand Canyon.  One of my huge issues with the writing was that I felt like the author had done no research.  The book is set in the 1930's in rural Alabama.  From the beginning the narrator tells us that she was born in a tiny community called Bittersweet Creek.  She moves to a larger city, but we are told over and over how small this town is.  Everyone knows everyone, rural, etc, etc.  But then the narrator tells us she has a car.  And she goes to a dance hall and knows how to waltz. 

From my five minutes of research on the rural South during this time period, neither of those things would be a possibility.  Where did she get the money for a car?  We hear all about how humble her family is and how she just makes enough money for a boarding house (remember we are talking a single woman in the 1930's) - but she has her own car?  And she learned to dance?  Don't tell me about how she grew up running wild on the banks of a creek in rural Alabama and then have her ballroom dancing a few paragraphs away.

Another issue was the multiple narrators.  Multiple narrators are typically not a problem for me, but I think it's weird to tell half the story in alternating voices and then to randomly insert two chapters in a third voice.  It was just obviously used as a device to show us what was happening in the third character's head or let us know what he was doing when he was "off stage".  I think there are better ways to do that then the sudden and random addition of a third voice for two chapters.

Finally, the dialects.  There is nothing worse than poorly written Southern dialect.  At the very least try to keep it consistent.  If a character is going to have to use country phrases to show us how backwoods she is, then use them all the time. Don't have her occasionally throw out a "ya'll" or a "down in the holler" and then on the next page have her speaking perfectly grammatical English with no accent. 

So yeah, the writing gets a big time no from me.

MST3K Review:
Again, this is a no go.  Not entertaining.  The entire book is this huge buildup about the secret book.  Why do they have it?  What is its purpose?  Where did it come from?  Then we have the big finale with a showdown between the good guys and the bad guy (who only appears at all in the last 50 pages).  And the showdown ends, the good guy and the good girl live happily ever after, and the book?  Nah, who cares about that.  The girl fell in love!  She found a man to complete her!  Who needs to know why we just read 354 pages all about this mysterious book - what really matters is that a man loves the female main character.  Isn't that what we should be concerned about?  We get our happy ending?

My apologies to the author and the publishing company.  I really wanted to like this one.  But I didn't.  At all.  It's a do not recommend.

2 comments:

  1. Wow. Sounds awful. The cover's pretty, but...

    Thanks for the review!

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  2. Julie,

    I'm so sorry that The Miracle of Mercy Land didn't resonant with you. I actually grew up in the south, those are just how my people speak, my mother grew up in that time period in the backwoods, poor as dirt, had a car, moved to the small city town by the water where I was raised. However, not all stories speak to all people no matter what. I know you love other authors and their work and love to promote them. Thanks for your reading time. All my best, River Jordan

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