Book Review: Mercy Street By Tess Evans February 13, 2016 – Posted in: Books, Review

I read this book as our February New Release Book Club book. It was only released in January and it’s selling fast.

I think you need to get to know Tess, the author first to better understand the subjects she tackled in this novel. Tess worked in TAFE for many years managing the programs for long term unemployed. This gave Tess a unique insight into disadvantaged young people and what they are encountering and dealing with day to day. When someone genuinely offers you a hand up, mistrust can affect the response to this well-meaning hand up.

There is also the disrespectful attitude towards a job that seems alien to us who crave the security of a job. Have you ever encountered a young person in the workplace that just doesn’t seem to be committed to the job? Their background may lead them to feel they will lose it eventually anyway and better to not be committed and that way they are less disappointed when they lose the job or quit. Mercy Street left me with the message that there is a lot more to understanding about someone to explain his or her reactions in life. Try to offer an open heart, rather than judging an unknown situation and background.

So then there’s the book. A story about an older man in his 80’s put in a situation where he is responsible for a 5-year-old girl for 2 years when the mother runs off to be with a boyfriend. The love that grew for this girl, Rory and how it makes him do things that a non-child obsessed man may not do.

But the other lovely part of the story is the relationship that builds with relatives, friends and neighbours. I personally would like to explore how we can engineer situations like those that occur in the book. The friendships that helped George offer this 5-year-old girl love and security is what we can all provide to others in our own lives. As a culture how do we teach ourselves to offer this support and generosity of time and understanding?

So did I like the book, would I recommend it? Obviously it gave me plenty to think about. The multi generational setting was lovely to consider. The experiences of George were described vividly and with depth. I could really understand his reasoning and sense of morals through these beautiful descriptions.

Personally I would have loved to get to know more about Ange, the 20-year-old mother in the story. The snippets offered were direct and brief. From Tess Evans’s background and unique understanding of Angie’s situation, there was room for a much more intense description of what she was feeling and thinking.