Mercy Among the Children

by David Adams Richards | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0743448189 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Pooker3 of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 11/28/2008
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3 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Friday, November 28, 2008
First of the 2009 Canada Reads candidates that I have not already read corralled on Mt.TBR.

Journal Entry 2 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Thursday, December 18, 2008
Having already read Gil Adamson's *The Outlander* prior to it being selected, I chose this book to read next from this year's Canada Reads selections. Honestly, it was to get it out of the way, so I could get on with the next three. I didn't anticipate liking it very much. I know that Richards' writing is much admired and this book in particular has won the Giller Prize but I've a few others of Richards' works on the TBR heap and they haven't exactly been begging me to read them, although I've considered them from time to time. I did read, for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge, Richards' Christmas stories book and although nice stories, they were tinged with a bit of sadness in their nostalgia.

Well, talk about sadness. *Mercy Among the Children* has to be one of the saddest books I've ever read. Not shed a few tears sad (in fact I didn't shed any) but heartbreakingly and painfully sad.

When Sydney Henderson was a boy, he got into a fight with another boy while they were shoveling snow off the roof of the church. The other, Connie, fell off the roof when Sydney pushed him. Thinking Connie would be killed in the fall, Sydney makes a deal with God that he "would never raise his hand or his voice to another soul" if only God would let the other boy live. Connie does live. In fact, he is barely hurt in the fall, yet Sydney keeps his promise his whole life.

Sounds laudable, noble even, doesn't it?

I think of myself as a kind and honest, ethical and principled person. It is crucial for me to be so, both personally and in my profession. There are numerous opportunities not to be. Perhaps that is true in anyone's life. I don't know. I only know that when it comes down to it, there is no question that I will walk the high road, even if that means I will suffer the consequences.

So you would think then that I would applaud Sydney's steadfast adherence to his principles. But I didn't. At times I called him an idiot, a fool. In fact even now, the story having ended in perhaps a satisfactory way for everyone, I am still inclined to call him a fool.

There is a difference between Sydney and me in that, at least to date, my adherence to my own principles has harmed no one, to my knowledge, other than me. Even my own "suffering" is pretty small potatoes - mostly of the temporary embarrassment sort in having to admit one's mistakes. Sydney's family suffers. A lot. He sees it and allows it. I have a hard time with that. Sydney's adherence to his principles has really done him no good other than in being able to die knowing he "walked the high road". Did he?

Rather like that age old dilemma of when is it, or is it, okay to steal a loaf of bread if it would save a person from dying of hunger? Does it make a difference when - do you have to wait until the person is at death's door? Does it make a difference if the person is young or old, a relative or a stranger? Or do you stick to your guns and not steal at all?

I found this to be a very depressing book to read. Almost all of the characters, ordinary folks presumably, are wretched and do "wrong" and go to great lengths to justify their own behaviour to others and to themselves. Sad, sad, sad.

I finished reading this book well before Christmas, yet here it is a week later and it still bothers me. For that, and other reasons, I give it "high marks". It may well be deserving of the Canada Reads win. I rather hope it doesn't win though - if we all read it, the whole country will go into a depression. ;)

This is my thirteenth book by a male Canadian author and my twenty-fifth overall for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge, Eh?

This book is going into a prize box filled with all sorts of other Canadian books and goodies and will shortly be on its way to KarmelK in Michigan. KarmelK is the winner of my "You're in Canada Now" RABCK (Random Act of BookCrossing Kindness) which was inspired by John Mutford's Canadian Book Challenges.

Journal Entry 3 by Pooker3 at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Saturday, January 03, 2009

Released 11 yrs ago (1/3/2009 UTC) at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

Off to KarmelK in the "You're in Canada Now" prize box. You should get it just in time for the Canada Reads debates. While I don't know if you can tune in to CBC, if you Google Canada Reads you should be able to check on the action at their web site. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 4 by KarmelK from Jerome, Michigan USA on Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This came to me because I won the "You're in Canada Now" prize box done as a RABCK by Pooker3.
Thank you, my Canadian friend! KK

Journal Entry 5 by KarmelK from Jerome, Michigan USA on Monday, June 22, 2009
This book is being released for the Canada Day Challenge and NJABBIC H20 Week.

Journal Entry 6 by KarmelK at The Book Exchange, 130 E Washington in Jackson, Michigan USA on Monday, June 22, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (6/22/2009 UTC) at The Book Exchange, 130 E Washington in Jackson, Michigan USA

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

Dropped this at my local UBS for Canada Day and H20 Never Judge a Book by It's Cover Week.

Journal Entry 7 by tobyandjoe from Jackson, Michigan USA on Thursday, August 20, 2009
My fiance and I bought this book at a second-hand bookstore in our small city in Michigan. By the time I was finished I had been taken through a full range of emotion and sat weeping in my chair. My fiance is currently reading the book and, when he is finished, it will be returned to the bookstore to continue its travels.

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