Friday, March 9, 2012

"The Mercy" Review

The Mercy by Beverly Lewis was sent to me by Bethany House Publishers as a review copy. It is the conclusion to “The Rose” trilogy by this author. You can read my reviews of the first two books in this series, The Thorn and The Judgment by clicking on the titles.
Rose Ann Kauffman is determined to move on with her life with or without a beau. Since coming to a mutual agreement with Silas Good about breaking off their relationship, she is content to stay at home and care for her ailing mother and the work that is to be done around the farm.
But even now she has lingering thoughts of the rebellious Nick Franco, who fled their Amish community after a strange accident involving his foster brother. Now Nick’s foster father, Bishop Aaron Petersheim is facing a “silencing” because of Nick’s rebellion. Rose wonders if Nick will ever return to set things right with the community, with his family, and even with her.
Meanwhile, Rose’s sister, Hen (short for Hannah), after returning to the Amish way of life with her daughter, is facing a difficult situation with her English husband. Brandon has been in a car accident, and needs constant care. He reluctantly joins Hen and Mattie Sue on her family’s Amish farm. Will Brandon’s physical needs cause him to think of his spiritual needs as well?
Both sisters long for new beginnings. They will have to rely on God’s strength, wait on His timing, and trust Him for what the future holds.
To begin, I will say that this third offering in “The Rose” trilogy is definitely not a standalone novel. Some series books can be read by themselves because they have different plots involving the same characters or involving characters in the same family. If you tried to read this novel by itself, you would be hopelessly confused. So, if you plan to read it, start with The Thorn and then go to The Judgment before reading this one.
There were a few things that I liked about this last book in “The Rose” series. I was glad that this novel brought out the fact that you can have a relationship with the Lord without being a member of the Amish church. I actually felt the opposite during the first book, The Thorn. It was refreshing to see an Amish community accepting of those who were not Amish, unlike some novels I have read.  I also was able to appreciate Rose Ann’s dedication to her Amish faith. She was devoted to the Amish way of life and to her baptism into the faith, even though she was confronted with reasons to leave.
With Hen’s story, I liked how she and her husband resolved their issues. I will try not to completely give it away, but I was glad that Brandon, though English, wasn’t seen as completely in the wrong, as he had been in the previous books. While I still didn’t really like Hen as a character, I did like the way she was willing to compromise. Because of her complete stubbornness in the previous books, I was actually pretty surprised at the ending to her story.
While the ultimate conclusions to the plotlines in this series were satisfying to me, I found The Mercy to be pretty dull most of the way through. It was just too drawn-out, with only a few blips of action here and there. (By ‘action’ I mean an event happening to keep the story moving, not ‘action’ as in non-stop action like in a movie.) Most of the novel was just telling and re-telling the daily events in the lives of the characters. I don’t remember the first two in the series being that tedious.
The plot just seems to flounder in the final book. A random character is introduced, presumably just to give Rose Ann another “crisis point” if Nick ends up returning. Then, after spending so much of the book saying basically nothing about Rose’s main storyline, the ending just races toward you, and it’s over in a few pages. It felt as if ¾ of the novel was just filler instead of wrapping up the two main storylines in a compelling manner.
Maybe this book would have held my interest more if we were able to see firsthand the reasons that made Nick come back to town. He tells Rose why, but the plot would have been a lot more interesting if we could have gone through that transformation with him, either from Rose’s point of view or from his.
While I thought the story was too drawn out over three books (and especially in the third one), I enjoyed the conclusions to the stories of Hen and Rose Ann.
I will give The Mercy … 2 ½ BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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