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Home Blogs The Arts THE MIRACLE OF MERCY LAND: The story stays with you

THE MIRACLE OF MERCY LAND: The story stays with you

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Finished River Jordan's new book, "The Miracle of Mercy Land," last night. Jordan's a gifted writer who knows how to hook her readers right from the first page and hold on to them through to the end.


Here's the first paragraph:

I was born in a bolt of lightning on the banks of Bittersweet Creek. Mama said it was a prophecy, and as she is given to having visions of the biblical kind, no one argues with her. She can match what she sees with ancient words, and truth be told, she is frightening with the speaking of them. Mama can swipe you with her eyes so that you feel like you have either been hushed or resurrrected by God's own hand.

The last time a book stayed with me like this one was "Saints in Limbo," also by Jordan. She has a way of writing powerful, independent female characters who find their own way in the world, despite circumstances that would keep them down.

In "Mercy," Jordan tells the story of a young woman in pre-WWII Alabama who works for Doc Phillips at the Banner, the only newspaper in a small town called Bay City.

I was Doc's assistant, and that meant I was really the assistant editor. To his credit, Doc tried to give me that title, but it didn't stick because people just called me Doc's girl. That's what they'd say 'cause it made it easy on them. ... Doc's girl. I didn't mind.

Mercy and Doc's lives are rocked to the core when a magic book appears on Doc's desk late one night.

To say it became a distraction would be a flat-out lie. It became on obsession. Doc swore me to complete secrecy so that no one in town knew a thing. ... The greatest story in the entire world had fallen right into my hands, and I couldn't print a word of it.

The way Mercy and Doc handle the mysterious tome unfolds with as much magic as "the book" itself.

"The Miracle of Mercy Land" bled into my dreams last night. I woke up thinking about it and its been on my mind all day.

Watch the News-Telegram for an interview with Jordan (we're scheduled to talk Tuesday afternoon) and a complete review of one of the best books I've read this year.

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