Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Column No. 10 January 18, 2012

            I always judge a book by its cover. I am horrible that way. When I go into the library, I go to the new release section and pick up the books based on what the title font looks like, what kind of picture is on the jacket, and the color of the letters in the title.
            I am usually a pretty accurate judge about whether or not I will like a book just by looking at it. I don’t even have to look at the description of the book. This week’s book was one I never would have chosen if I had gotten it at the library.
            My cousin Melissa messaged me about this book. Growing up, Melissa and I had one thing in common: books. We both could read an arsenal of books within a week. And we had the same taste in books. We would pass books back and forth like other kids would interchange mix tapes. While Melissa and I did not have much else in common, we could always count on each other for a good book recommendation.
            Now we are older. We are both married. We both have kids. Melissa lives in Wisconsin. We don’t talk on the phone. We don’t email each other about our daily activities, but I can always count on her for a great book idea. I am always looking for a good book. So when she told me about “The Shape of Mercy” by Susan Meissner, I knew I needed to read it right away.
            I ignored my personal 99-cent e-book rule and spent full price to download this book that I knew would be great, just because Missy told me it would be. I was not disappointed.
            The cover of this book is lame. It makes the book look like it is going to be a really sappy Christian romance novel. I am not knocking Christian romance novels. They have their place in the world of literature, or at least in the world of quick, fun reads. But I was definitely not in the mood for that kind of book this week. I wanted something that would grip my soul and not let go. I wanted something that I would not be able to put down until the end. I found it!
            Lauren, the main character of the book, is a girl of privilege. She has never needed anything. But in an effort to escape the clutches of materialism, she decides to take a job. When she meets an elderly woman who needs someone to transcribe the diary of Mercy, a girl her age who lived during the Salem witch trials, she jumps at the opportunity.
            Lauren gets more than she bargained for as she becomes attached to Mercy, and she races to the end of the diary to find out what she knew was inevitable.
            In her journey through Mercy’s diary, Lauren learns not only Mercy’s story, but about her own life and how to accept who you are and the life you are given.
            I loved the way the story includes excerpts from the seventeenth-century diary. I am always a sucker for anything that has to do with Salem, Massachusetts. But this did not have anything supernatural or unbelievable in it. It seemed like it could be true. And it taught me a little about being happy in my own skin and with my own circumstances.

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