Monday, October 13, 2008

The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

Lauren Durough is a college student longing to break free of family expectations when she stumbles into a project for eighty year old Abigail Boyles—transcribing the journals of Mercy Hayworth, a seventeenth-century victim of the Massachusetts witch trials. Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with the mysterious Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul.  But on the way to discovering the candid truth, Lauren must earnestly ask if she is playing the role of helpless defendant or the misguided judge?  Can she break free from her own perceptions and recognize who she really is?
In our high-pressure, success-oriented culture, readers will identify with Lauren’s struggle to forge her own identity separate from the plan her family designed for her. Offering intrigue, romance, and heartbreaking drama, this contemporary novel with a historical twist conveys the intense beauty that emerges when we see how our stories affect the lives of others.
From early school-day projects to becoming editor of a local newspaper in Minnesota, Susan Meissner’s love for writing has been apparent her entire life.  The Shape of Mercy is her latest novel in a string of books that delve into the deeper issues of life. She is the author of nine novels and lives with her family in San Diego, California.  Find out more about her at

I absolutely adored this book!  This is the first book in a very long time that I have picked up and hated to put down.  As a matter of fact, I spent the better part of my Saturday glued to this book (when normally I only read in the evenings, before bed).  This book is a perfect blend of contemporary and classical and it draws the two together in such a way that I was hooked from the very first page!
I, along with Lauren (the main character), was totally intrigued with the diary of Mercy Hayworth.  I waited with anticipation to read her next entries.  I found myself just totally drawn into this book.  Not only was I curious about the Salem Witch Trials and the tragic fate of Mercy, but I was also intrigued by Abigail Boyles and her life - the things that worked together to make her so passionate about the diary.  Lauren was a fun character with a lot of depth - I felt like I knew her personally and could feel her inner struggles.  Though throughout the book I was tempted to get on my computer and research more about the Salem Witch  trials, I found myself refraining - almost as if I, too, had promised Abigail that I would not do that until the entire diary had been transcribed! The secondary characters in this book were also very well thought-out and easy to get to know. 
This was the first Susan Meissner book that I have read, but it definitely will not be the last.  I will be watching for more books by Susan and will definitely be recommending them to others.  And, now I'm off to do my research....

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