cover image The Mercy Papers: A Memoir of Three Weeks

The Mercy Papers: A Memoir of Three Weeks

Robin Romm. Scribner Book Company, $22 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-6788-2

In this powerful narrative, author Romm (The Mother Garden) chronicles the weeks before her mother's death, drawing from it the story of her long years spent battling and eventually succumbing to cancer. In elegant prose, Romm celebrates their strong relationship and finds ways to cope, but doesn't flinch from exploring her darker feelings: rage at abandonment, resentment toward her physician father, frustration with a well-meaning but ineffectual boyfriend. The sad reality unreels in elegant prose and precise metaphors; hospice worker Barb ""administers more morphine, more Percocet, more fentanyl... building a boat to sail my mother out."" Originally begun as a personal journal-not for publication-Romm's heartbreak is writ large and clear, as are the details of her mother's painful end and her family's struggle to cope (""we've all been placed at the mercy of her disease... it's trapped us in this house""). Anyone touched by cancer, or who has seen a loved one in hospice care, will find this painful, absorbing and likely therapeutic; unfortunately, the story peters out once Romm's mother passes, leaving her readers, perhaps on purpose, unmistakably empty.