Back cover copy:
Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman of the 1930s. 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 Philips, 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 curious 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 wants to fulfill the book’s strange purpose. But when a mystery from Mercy’s past arrive by train, she begins to understand she will have to make choices that will deeply affect everyone she loves–forever.
I'd not heard of this author before requesting this book to review and the back cover copy drew me in. I felt let down after reading it though. The "curious book" that's found by Doc is never really explained and the hint of being able to change the past is never brought to fruition. The characters open the book time after time and hint about seeing things, but nothing is shown clearly. The mysterious man who arrives by train has something happen to him after looking at the book, but even that isn't fully explained. The choices that Mercy has to make weren't as difficult as I'd hoped they'd be, again, I felt that many parts of this story were gently touched on instead of being dug right into. This book left me with more questions than answers. If it is an allegory of some sort I truly didn't get it.
On the up side, it is a clean read and for that I'm grateful. I enjoyed the bits and pieces about life in the early to mid 20th century. Mercy was a girl who wasn't afraid to go after what she wanted and she landed a dream job at a newspaper when she was just nineteen. Mercy lives in a boarding house and is very independent. The story rushes a little and at times I was left wondering if I'd missed something.
This book was provided for review by Waterbrook Multnomah.