Blue Mercy by Orna Ross.
I somehow ended up with this book on my kindle, one of a number I'd loaded up for the summer break. Within a few pages I was hooked. The story starts with heavy baggage. Three generations of a family have reached the end of the road and the book is all about unfolding the events that led there. The main vehicle for this is the Blue Mercy Manuscript, a memoir left to the daughter when her mother dies. I'm not going to try and summarise the events of Blue Mercy. Calamitous occurrences, major life choice mistakes, dark secrets and tragic bad luck, it all happens to Mercy and her daughter Star. The mother has the benefit of hindsight as she revisits her journey from rebellious teenager to flower child, single mom and quite suddenly an old and ailing woman. She acknowledges her own weaknesses and strengths, conveys the despair of trying to raise a daughter with serious behavioural problems and carries her beauty, wherever she goes, like a deadly weapon over which she has limited control.
The contrast between Mercy and Star is acute. They're physically very different and that's important to the story. Star's bulk casts a shadow throughout and her self-loathing is palpable. Mercy is gorgeous but she hates herself for being weak willed. The two women are at irreconcilable loggerheads, putting up a united front only when three men enter their lives at different times, each leading to a different kind of disaster.
There's a twist in the tale. In fact, there are two twists. If you see them coming you're more perceptive than I was. Cruel fate indeed.
Blue Mercy is wonderfully written. Orna Ross, it turns out, is a mainstream published author turned indie. I wish, can only hope, that one day I'll be able to write like her.
There's a moral in the story of Blue Mercy. Life is not a rehearsal, this is it. You have one life, live it.
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