Let's begin this review with a synopsis from the publisher:
What if you had the power to amend choices you made in the past? Would you do it even if it changed everything?
Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in 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 indispensible 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 arrives by train, she begins to understand that she will have to make choices that will deeply affect everyone she loves—forever.
After I received this book from Waterbrook for review, I decided to read another book by Ms. Jordan so I could get a feel for her style of writing. I read The Messenger of Magnolia Street, which was a strange novel about people fighting the forces of evil in their hometown. I thought it was a little too contrived, and so I wasn't sure what to think about The Miracle of Mercy Land.
I needn't have worried. I think Ms. Jordan's writing improved over the last four years, causing her to have more likeable characters, and a plot that, although not possible in real life, is filled with allegory and symbolism that bring the reader to understand God and His world a little bit better.
I was frustrated in the reading of the book at first because I was trying to make sense of what was happening and instead saw the story become weirder as I continued. However, when I got about halfway through, I beagn spotting the comparisons that were so subtly made that I almost missed some of them. I'm sure if I read it again I would see more, but I don't think my little brain would withstand the pressure.
As I think back on this story, I have decided that I did like it after all. I agree with Mercy when she says that scars are "a good sign of the soul of (a) man" and that if a person "shows up perfectly whole on the outside, there's a fair chance something's ill on the inside". I am learning more and more about the heart of man and it's not always pretty. Until one is "filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19), he/she will incur scars. And trials, whether they are the result of our sin, or the hand of God on our lives for the purpose of sanctification, will leave us with scars every time. But I'm so glad that I can trust Him to work all things together for my good, and for His glory. No matter how much I try to get into the way.
I give The Miracle of Mercy Land 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
(I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for review purposes. I received no monetary compensation for this review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.)