May 17, 2013

Book Review: Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock

Back Cover: Stunning coming-of-age drama set during the Great Depression and Prohibition

When Eve Marryat's father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve's uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.

Eve can't wait to leave St. Paul, a notorious haven for gangsters. At seventeen, she considers her family to be "good people," not lawbreakers like so many in her neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a "safe haven," Eve soon forms an unlikely friendship with a strange young man named Link, blissfully unaware that her uncle's lodge is anything but what it seems.

When the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. Does she dare risk everything by exposing the man whose love and generosity is keeping her family from ruin? And when things turn dangerous, can she trust Link in spite of appearances?

My Review: This story gives us a glimpse into what it would have been like growing up around gangsters, bootleggers, flappers, and bums during the Great Depression and Prohibition. Eve is an idealistic teen, believing that all bad things are kept in big cities, while the small town of her dreams will be perfect. Eve's self-righteous perceptions are challenged throughout the story, as life turns from black and white to shades of grey. She learns that bad people aren't all bad, and good people are not all good. As Eve matures, things become more complex for her and her family. Can she keep a terrible secret?

Tatlock's characters are varied and interesting. The only think I didn't really like about the book was the prologue and epilogue. In both we meet the older, grandmother Eve. The novel is reduced to her telling her grandson a story. I'm sure many would disagree with me, but I lost some enjoyment because of the time shift. Other than that, this is a really enjoyable book.

My Rating:

My Recommendation: I recommend this book to fans of Ann Tatlock and readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

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