Mercy, Unbound

Kim Antieau, Author . Simon Pulse $6.99 (165p) ISBN 978-1-4169-0893-7

Antieau's (Coyote Cowgirl , for adults) rather cumbersome first young-adult novel centers on a 15-year-old suffering an eating disorder who believes she is becoming an angel. Though Mercy confesses that she is hungry, she insists that if she eats, "I'll lose my wings." The narrative chronicles her interactions with others—her high-strung environmental lawyer mother, her calm professor-of-literature father and her fellow patients at a treatment center for eating disorders ("My mother does not see the irony of taking me to a hospital called Mercywood"). The narrative reveals the lingering effects of Mercy's losses: her younger brother was stillborn, her dog died and her beloved grandmother (who nearly starved in a Nazi concentration camp) moved away. After the two latter events, Mercy confides to her new friends at Mercywood that she did have an eating disorder "but it went away." She also shares with them the dream that first made her realize that she is an angel. After watching a news report about AIDS orphans in Africa, she dreamed that she was leaning over a dying person, "my wings stretched out like an umbrella over the two of us, and I was whispering—bestowing compassion and mercy in a world that really needs it." Although the writing can be lyrical, readers may feel that the moral ultimately drives the story. Unlike the more realistic Skin (reviewed above), this novel overlays a heavy (albeit uplifting) message that masks the moments of true connection—between Mercy and her parents, and Mercy and her peers. Ages 14-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/24/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 176 pages - 978-1-4169-3459-2
Prebound-Sewn - 176 pages - 978-1-4177-4880-8
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