Can't Stop Reading

Lucky for me I get a hefty discount at work, because I just can't seem to stop myself!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

When I first saw the cover of Mercy, Unbound, I thought, oo, that looks good! Then I read the back and I was a bit less excited. It’s an anorexia book. But it’s different than any anorexia book I've ever read, and I loved it. Hmm, perhaps we should judge books by their covers?... Kidding!

Mercy is not anorexic. Its just that she's becoming an angel, see, and angels don't need to eat. She can even feel the wings trying to come out of her back, "at first they felt like new teeth coming in. Do you remember that feeling? Kind of itchy, irritating." Mercy goes to great length to explain that she does not have self esteem issues, that her parents have always been amazingly supportive, and that she has had a great life. But her parents aren't buying the angel thing, and they bring her to an eating disorder hospital in New Mexico.

Once checked in, Mercy is confirmed in her belief that she does not belong there, where the other girls look "like wasted figures from a surreal painting. Or like Gumby figurines. No, they still looked like creatures from the Day of the Dead." Eventually, Mercy runs away, and finds herself near a Hopi community in the middle of the desert, with no memory of her previous life. While she heals in the desert, her parents track her down and come to stay with her.

Whether Mercy was anorexic or not is not really the issue. The issue for Mercy is the overwhelming terribleness of the world. How can she cope with a world where her grandmother lived for years in a concentration camp? Where her mother, the environmental lawyer gave birth to a stillborn baby boy, and spends all her time fighting to save the earth? Where there are 14 million AIDS orphans in Africa? Becoming an angel was Mercy's way of coping with the awfulness of the world around her. But New Mexico, and her family, helps her to realize that the world is not always a horrible place, and that even though one person cannot save the world, one person can make a contribution.

This is Antieau's first novel for young adults, and I think it’s marvelous. I hate saying someone's writing is luminous, because it seems such a cliché, but hers is. I also think the theme of being overwhelmed by the world is one that a lot of teens can relate to. Heck, a lot of adults can relate to this one, too. My only complaint is that the font switches from an elegant italicized to a straight-forward sans serif for no reason that I could see. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure it out, and it really distracted from the flow of the story. However, it’s a minor quibble, and if you can train your eye, you'll be fine. Better than fine.

Mercy, Unbound by Kim Antieau
ISBN 1416908935
165 pages


  • At 10:22 PM, Blogger Kim Antieau said…

    Thanks for your kind comments about my book! I'm so glad you liked it. I love hearing what readers think. Thanks for spreading the word.

    P.S. I just started a new blog for readers of my young adult books. We'll see how it goes. It's called Unbound Café


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