The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan
Publication Date: September 2010
Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
Format: Paperback, 352 pp
Genre: Christian Fiction
(Received for review from a freelance publicist working with Waterbrook Multnomah)
Synopsis (Courtesy of Barnes & Noble):
What if you had the power to amend the choices you made in the past? Would you do it even if it changed everything?
Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in the 1930's. The sheltered daughter of a traveling preacher, she chooses to leave her rural community to move to nearby Bay City on the warm, gulf-waters of southern Alabama. There she finds a job at the local paper and spends seven years making herself indispensable to old Doc Phillips, the publisher and editor. Then she gets a frantic call at dawn - it's the biggest news story of her life, and she can't print a word of it.
Doc has come into possession of a curios book that maps the lives of everyone in Bay City - decisions they've made in the past, and how those choices affect the future. Mercy and Doc are consumed by the mystery locked between the pages - Doc because he hopes to right a very old wrong, and Mercy because she want's to fulfill the book's strange purpose. But when a mystery from Mercy's past arrives by train, she begins to understand that she will have to make choices that will deeply affect everyone she loves - forever.
This book is definitely a change of pace for Christian Fiction. River Jordan incorporates a bit of magic in The Miracle of Mercy Land, which is something most writers of Christian Fiction would shy away from. The author however uses 'magic' to teach a great lesson about the choices we make in life and how the effect everyone around us.
Mercy Land was born in a bolt of lightening to a circuit riding preacher on the banks of Bittersweet Creek, a small Alabama town in the 1930's. As she becomes a young woman, Mercy gravitates to the lights of bigger town, Bay City on the gulf. She becomes a reporter for the local paper, The Banner and under the tutelage of Doc Phillips, publisher and editor.
When Doc receives a mysterious book of maps, he decides to let Mercy in on his secret. This isn't any old atlas. It has the map of every person in Bay City's lives. When a person makes a decision it appears on their personal map. It shows not only the choices they've made in their past but how it effects their future. Will Doc be able to change the past and make up for a mistake he made long ago? Will Mercy's past catch up with her as she attempts to solve the mystery of the book?
This book is based on a principle that I've heard in the past called the butterfly effect, which basically says that if even the smallest changes were made in the past it could effect the future in catastrophic ways. I loved how River Jordan was able make this principle come to life in this book. If each of us had the opportunity to go back and change the past would we do it, if we knew it could possibly change everything?
Maybe I haven't had the most spectacular life, with lots of twists and turns, but honestly I think I would be afraid to change the past. I'm not sure what it would mean for my future. Everyone makes choices, every single day and this book really brought home the point that we have to choose with the greatest of care, with the knowledge that every single choice effects not only us, but everyone around us.
I loved the book. I thought the subject was new and different for Christian Fiction. I thought the characters were easy to identify with. I think that Doc's need to change the past because of something he did was understandable. Mercy's desire to bring the purpose of the book to fruition was compelling even in the face of her own past. The story was engaging and full of surprises. It did get a bit bogged down with allegory toward the end for a bit, but all in all this was an excellent book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes Christian Fiction but wants to find a new twist or to new readers to the genre, that want something different and exciting. I look forward to River's next book and can't wait to read her others.
The Miracle of Mercy Land is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one an easy 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
River Jordan is a storyteller of the southern variety and spent ten years as a playwright with the Loblolly Theatre Group. She now teaches and speaks on "The Power of Story" around the country. She is currently completing a work of fiction and a collection of essays.