Friday, December 27, 2013

Book Review: Ann Tatlock's Sweet Mercy

Many books are set in the decade of the 1930's, not as many cover the Prohibition era in the way that this one does. Probably because the perspective that Eve takes isn't as popular, and to be honest just gets a bit too much at times. What seems to matter is the change that takes place for everyone. The setting that provides a backdrop to the novel is also astounding as well. Tatlock knows how to capture the time they are living in without over doing it, and writes without any cheesiness.

Summary: Eve and her family are leaving St. Paul to escape the violence that Prohibition has brought in between the gangs and the rivalry of bootlegging alcohol in certain areas. They hope things will be more peaceful in Mercy. What St.Paul does in public though, Mercy is a lot more quiet about. Eve hopes to help her family at the hotel by helping with her Uncle Cy in running his business there, along with her cousin, Jones. Being a teenager there are also potential love interest, like Marcus, who is aspiring to go to college, or the mysterious Link who seems the opposite of who she would have imagined falling for.

Characters: Eve isn't a bad character, but I feel I liked everyone else better than Eve. Eve is well written, but some of her traits fall into much of the same category I put other lead females of Christian fiction into. She has the flaw of judging people as if she is above them, but other than that the sin she commits isn't one that would get her to scandalized. It's not bad, but I wanted to push for more. Jones is intriguing though, and I honestly wish the novel could have been a bit longer just to accommodate more of his story. Link is also a good character, and kept me reading. I liked the concept of the novel though where it deals with characters who do bad things yet aren't always bad. Eve keep relating back to her encounter with Al Capone when going over this scenario. It's a good learning experience, and honestly I like how it deals with not making out the people to be one or the other, but a mixture of flaws of all kinds.Maybe it just comes from reading a lot other books in this genre and knowing that they struggle with making characters who aren't just good or bad?

Writing: The writing is well done, and I felt that the author wasn't forcing the time period on the reader. She naturally sets it up with beautiful imagery and highlights of that era to let us know where we are at. Even if you didn't grow up in that time you can feel the beauty of where the characters are living at when they first arrive from St. Paul. I felt the way the characters expressed themselves as well felt true to their time too. I could see them talking as they do, and it doesn't over express itself.

Plot: The plot did keep me reading. The author doesn't leave room for a lot of lulls or assumption, which is great. You get straight to the point, and what the characters are up to. I will be honest that some twists were easy to predict though. I also still am unsure of how I feel people who drank alcohol are portrayed in the novel as well. While Eve learns her lesson about judging people we never know if her beliefs change with that. He biggest disdain for people who drink is the fact they are breaking the law. I don't know how she feels now that it is legal. I think that would have been a nice add in for the epilogue. This story does give a lot of interesting perceptions though of how Prohibition did turn the world upside down for a time, and I have to say it was insightful for thought.

Sweet Mercy did intrigue me and I loved the setting. I felt it was well captured, and in a world where this has become one of the most popular eras to write about and portray in media, this author does a good job of finding her place in it, and making it one of the better ones I've read this year. Plus, she tries to take a different sight of it. While I can't say I always liked the portrayal, it was food for thought.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review.

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