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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Book review: This Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel by Wiley Cash

I wasn't feeling in a dark mood when I really needed to read this book (I was going to be possibly seeing Mr. Cash at Booktopia) so I was reluctant and put it off, but the book isn't nearly as dark as the cover and the set up had me think it would be.

Easter and Ruby (named for two of their mother's favorite things) are living in a foster home after their mother's death. Their father, Wade, who signed away rights to them years ago, a failed minor-league baseball player and minor criminal, wants to get them back. Unfortunately, an enemy who Wade hurt a long time ago has resurfaced and is hot on Wade's trail, catching up with the trio faster than the police. They are in much more trouble than they had bargained for.

The book is told from Easter, the older sister's, point of view. She's just on the cusp of puberty and has a maybe-boyfriend and is very protective of her sister, understandably. She's wary of Wade disappointing them again (particularly after having heard all their mother's stories of the times he disappointed her) but the girls just want to be loved, and to belong to a family. The places (Gastonia, NC; Myrtle Beach, SC) are well-drawn and evocative, and the trope of having the girls following the Mark McGwire--Sammy Sosa home run race put us in the time (1998) very well and helped track how much time had gone by. It also was a good way to show that even though on the surface Easter claimed to hate her father, she still loved an enormous thing that he had done that symbolized him. The book was a fast read and although there were some very bad things that happened in the book, overall I did not find it a negative, down book. I'm not sure why it is pitched as such a dark book, as I would think that would turn off a lot of readers. To me it read more like a slow thriller, narrated by a preteen.

A friend who had Advance Readers from the publisher gave me one.


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