This year, I plan to write more reviews on the books that inspire me. For me, it's more than being entertained when I'm reading. There has to be some kind of take away message.
I set a goal to read 45 books this year. I think it's doable. So far, I've read five or six. I forget. I'll check goodreads to confirm later. I could read more but I do have my own books to write.
Today's book is Mercy, Me by Donna Hawk!
Donna and I met a few years ago at the Louisiana Book Festival held each fall in downtown Baton Rouge. Her smile was what I remember most during our meeting. She was friendly, polite, and also trying to keep warm because it was cold that day. Even when the sun beamed down on us, the wind refused to be defeated. We chatted briefly about books and writing, introducing ourselves to each other. But due to all the foot traffic of anticipating readers, our conversation was cut short. Her table was a few tables down from mine. Before the festival ended, she returned to my table and purchased my debut novel Deadly in Stilettos.
Donna and I soon connected via social media, Facebook to be exact. We don't see each other often or speak regularly, but we have managed to build a growing friendship online. This proves that using social media in a positive way can create positive and lasting relationships with people who are likeminded that you probably wouldnt've connected with otherwise. Donna lives in Kansas and seeing as though I've never been there, we probably wouldnt've crossed paths had it not been for the LBF. I've become friends with many of my peers using social media. I've discovered amazing authors and gained wonderful readers via social media. For that, I am truly grateful! Give it a chance. You never know who God will connect you with. It may just change your life profoundly.
Weeks ago, Donna reached out to me about her latest release Mercy, Me. She asked if I would read her book and give an honest opinion of it. I was delighted, honored that she held me in such regard. Not many authors reach out to other authors about their work. That alone, tells me what kind of person she is.
She gifted me the book, and I commenced to reading. A few days into the book Life happened placing my reading on hold. It's funny how the enemy will try its' best to keep you from keeping your word. Well, it didn't work! I'm finished and my review is written below. *sticks out tongue*
Throughout my review, I took quotes from Mercy that touched me in some way.
"I want to hide. I want to live in a dream and never surface. I want to live a world where I'm accepted for who I am withour apology and without prejudice." --Mercy
The story is about a teenager named Mercy, living with her parents in the city of Fiddler's Green. Mercy is deemed an outcast by everyone she comes in contact with due to her beautiful, vibrant, big orange hair. So much so that she is released from school because her appearance frightens her peers beyond disbelief in my opinion. How can someone be denied an education for looking different? Sadly, it happens daily; has been for a very long time. The only way this kind of behavior will end is change. A change in heart, mind, body, and soul! In the words of Mercy, "People are frightened by the prospect to adapt than it is to embrace it."
Mercy's parents are cowards to me. There is no way in the world that my child would be banished from school, not allowed to attend any school functions, or mistreated anytime she steps foot outside our home for looking different. They accepted the school's decision telling her she must get a job and make her own way. Mercy is relieved in a sense. She is ready to come into her own and live. She doesn't allow the negative stares and comments to change who she is. Her positive attitude made me cheer for her like a groupie at a Prince concert. (I love Prince!!!! Rest in Paradise.)
"Their attitudes will not affect mine. I will be me, no matter what." --Mercy
She took the negative energy radiating around her and channeled it into strength to discover secrets not meant to be discovered about her life, the city she's called home, and the passed looks between her parents. When she meets a brown stranger, she knows there is more to the world than just living in Fiddler's Green. She's never seen someone look like him, so different like herself; yet, beautiful. She is immediately drawn to him. His name is Caston, Mercy's mysterious rescuer on more than one occasion. They quickly become friends.
I don't want to give away too much of the story because it is one to add to your favorite books collection, so I will keep some things to myself. I know Donna won't have a problem with that either. Buy the book!!! LOL.
Caston comes along right in time to help Mercy learn the many truths about her existence, Fiddler's Green, and other hidden secrets meant to keep the people of the city unaware of. The more time she spends with Caston, the more Mercy feels connected to him. He is like a breath of fresh air where she has felt suffocated most of her young life.
"We are just alike, yet nothing alike at all. The thought gives me comfort." --Mercy
My favorite part of the story is when Mercy finally opens herself up to the possibility that everything she has ever known or been told, is untrue. To decide what I'm speaking of I'll use Mercy's words again without giving away too much of the story.
"I danced in the rain. It was breathtaking!" --Mercy
My heart smiled...
Two people, different in appearance; yet the same when it comes to being labeled an outcast for not looking the way society deems acceptable.
"No one can know the pain unacceptance causes without living through it." --Mercy
As a woman of color, I can relate to that statement.
Caston is "brown" like me, and like me, he doesn't see color as being different. He is simply there to help a friend, a friend he has searched for all his life. If the world set aside the barriers that make us different, we would all soon realize that we are not that different at all. Sure we like different things, believe different things, but more often than not, our likes and dislikes, our intellect, our humor, our hobbies, our passions, etc. are more alike than we could imagine.
Hate and prejudice are taught behaviors. And lets be honest to ourselves. If something isn't taught, we cannot learn it. It's the cycle of how the mind works.
Mercy and Caston's relationship was inspiring to say the least. The world needs more people like them even if they are fictional characters in a book.
My favorite quote from Mercy still gives me chills. I read it over a dozen times to embed it in my consciousness.
"It lingers heavily in my brain, eating at my worth like a starving child." --Mercy
She's speaking about hate, prejudice, crudeness, being mean to someone for no reason at all except for the way that they look.
If an orange haired girl and a mysterious brown skinned boy can set aside the fact that they look different and learn to love each other without fault, we should take note and love each other just the same. It shouldn't matter where I came from, or what color skin I have. It shouldn't matter how much money my family has or not, or my level of education. We should all live in the pursuit of LOVE!!!
Now don't be naive! There will be individuals who are simply evil, who refuses to embrace change. It's their ignorance that will keep them in a war with themselves. They will be held accountable for their actions in the end. Don't allow anyone like that to make you question your character, integrity, or love. It's not worth it. It takes more energy to hate than to love!
Mercy, Me is a gem of a book! The message of love and acceptance is profound throughout this story. I challenge each of you read it for yourself. It just may inspire you, giving way to the change needed to affect someone who is stuck. Be the change you want to see in this world...!
I give this book 5 stars!!! It's worth that and more. There is nothing like a book that makes you think, makes you uncomfortable, and leaves you wanting to be a better person. The seldom messages intertwined throughout the story are alluring. I found myself smiling as I came across them, knowing that Donna poured herself fully and completely into creating a work of intergrity and sophistication. Mercy is wise well beyond her years, yet her innocence is capitivating. Her inward thoughts of Caston made me laugh because I once felt those emotions as an inexperienced teenage girl.
I hope this isn't the last of Mercy, Caston, and little Felix. You'll have to read the book to find out who Felix is. I want to know more of their promising future together. *hint, hint*
I like to know the backstory of the story. I guess it's the writer in me so I asked Donna if she wanted to share any details regarding Mercy, Me. This is what she had to say.
Words from the Author:
I wrote Mercy, Me as a “favor” to my sister who was teaching in a middle school at the time. She still had students who were uncomfortable with bad language and sexy situations. She challenged me to write a story that all young/teenage readers would like but with no language and very little sex. I think I did it! I love young adult, but even though these days you will find everything inside the YA titles, there are still those readers, or their parents, who are uncomfortable with it. I’m very proud of this book. I’m happy with the tolerance and acceptance it shows as Mercy grows as a person.
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Until next time, Be Inspired, Be Encouraged, & Be You!
Purple Hugs,KeKe Chanel