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The Mercy Rule

3.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  278 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
At first glance, Dr. Lucy Weiss looks like the typical high-achieving, upper-middle-class working mother who, along with her husband, is bringing up much-beloved children in a world of Saturday morning soccer, private-school teacher conferences, and hyperaggressive classroom mommies. But Lucy’s own history makes her an anomaly. Having overcome a difficult childhood in fost ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 7th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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(showing 1-30 of 515)
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Kara Jacobs
Another book that I expected to like and couldn't/wouldn't/didn't finish. I read maybe the first 1/5th of it, but I disliked the main character--obviously modeled on the author herself--so much that I just couldn't go on it was too painful. The main character was just too self-satisfied and faux-tough and faux-witty and faux-heart -of -gold -under- the -tough -exterior for me. (and the corollary, everybody else is stupid and grist for her faux -wit) I was really sad, because I've absolutely love ...more
Jul 04, 2011 Merredith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-or-2-stars
This is a random book that I took out from the library. At first I thought i might not like it, and was pleasantly surprised at how interested i was, but then as soon as I moved away from the first couple of chapters, it went downhill. The book is about a pediatrician who mainly works with kids from social services, something she feels strongly about because she was a foster child/adopted herself. she has a husband and two kids, but kind of ignores the husband half the time, and she blatantly di ...more
Danielle Schryver
Jan 06, 2009 Danielle Schryver rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
Hmmmm well Im not sure what to think about this book. I finished it last night and Im still not sure what the plot was, if there even was one. It seemed quite disjointed and jumpy and didn't flow all that well.

All that said, I guess I did enjoy it. I kept wanting to go back and read it anyway. And there was this character Freddy, a 7 yr old boy that reminded me a lot of my son Ben :)

So what was the book about? It was about a pediatrician that worked with the foster care system to make sure the c
Rashmi Tiwari
Sep 10, 2014 Rashmi Tiwari rated it it was ok
I'm so torn about this book: I love Perri Klass' non-fiction and I really wanted to like it but ultimately, I could not get past the idea that this was a thinly-veiled memoir (which I'm cool with) but with a narrator who seemed to have no sense of self-awareness.

Like Klass, Dr. Lucy Weiss is a pediatrician, a mother and the wife of a history professor. (He may be an English professor in this book.) Like Klass, one of Dr. Weiss' children is "quirky."

The problem isn't that Klass clearly used her
Feb 02, 2009 Beverly rated it did not like it
Shelves: women-s-fiction
Story of a family. The protagonist, Lucy Weiss,is a pediatrician who treats foster children and children at risk of placement. She herself was a foster child after her mother died when Lucy was a young child. The material in this novel is undigested. It reads more like linked short stories. The author and/or her editor did not do their jobs properly. Also contains some undigested hostility toward middle class families and their appendages - teachers, coaches, etc.
Mar 22, 2015 Cassandra rated it liked it
This is one of those books that grew on me the more I read it. Klass has a unique way of weaving a story that didn't draw me in at first. I'll admist that I considered returning the book to the library because I felt I just wasn't able to "get into it." I'm glad I kept reading though - the more I read, the more drawn in I became.

A strange look into the minds of a pediatrician and her children living an upper middle class, white bread existence that is fraught with troubles of its own.

At some po
melanie (lit*chick)
Oct 31, 2008 melanie (lit*chick) rated it really liked it
this was written in a unique, rambling style - much like the thoughts of a busy mom. lucy is a former foster child, now a doctor in a clinic assessing at risk children, trying to take care of her family while worrying others. i thought it was pretty funny and right-on about parenting, a little preachy in parts, but worthwhile.
more like a 4 minus. but closer to a 4 than a 3. :)
Malin Friess
Oct 26, 2011 Malin Friess rated it did not like it
One star...I only made it 25 pages before abandoning this train wreck. I agree with Megan and Jennifer...this book has no plot. This pediatrician wrote an excellent, readable, moving book in "Treatment, Kind and Fair." seems like with this fiction book...its like a pediatrician working in the geriatric big mess!
Jul 02, 2009 Megan rated it did not like it
Um, what I learned was that this book had no point. I kept thinking that something, anything was going to happen and then blah it was over without any resolution. This woman was self-centered and it practically made her squirm watching her children. Uh, no vote to read this again!
Dec 12, 2008 Megan rated it liked it
Although this is a novel, it reads more like a bunch of short stories about one family. Lucy is a pediatrician who works with foster care kids, and has a husband and 2 children. I kept waiting for a climatic moment, which never seemed to come. I prefer her non-fiction.
Jan 24, 2011 Laura rated it liked it
I expected to like this a lot more than I actually did, because a few pages in a child's birthday party is referred to as a "goddamned birthday party" and I could completely understand the frustration of having an entire Saturday taken away by an event. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that each chapter was actually a story about the family the book is based on. This wouldn't be too much a of a problem if they ended satisfyingly, but too often they didn't. I was left with questions that just were ...more
Nov 11, 2014 Marta rated it really liked it
A complex portrait of a family with a mom who experienced foster care and is now a pediatrician dealing with at-risk kids and foster families. I picked this up because I enjoy the author’s essays in knitting magazines. It was a very satisfying read and not at all what I expected from reading her knitting columns.
Jul 17, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok
This book is basically a bunch of random short stories about the same family. It felt very choppy and many of the stories were left without any resolution. Much of it was still interesting, but it didn't have a main plot to pull it all together. Very random.
Mary Whisner
Jan 25, 2015 Mary Whisner rated it really liked it
Shelves: medicine, fiction
The main character is a pediatrician who works with kids in foster care, was a foster child herself, and has two children of her own. I enjoyed the reflections on parenting.
Dec 17, 2012 Nichola rated it liked it
A woman who is a foster care success story takes us through a year or so of her experiences as a parent and as a doctor seeing young DSS patients. I liked the thoughtful nature of the book, and the depiction of the ever developing character of her relationship with her children. I couldn't quite understand why her children were in a private school if she disliked it so much. Also I found the relaxed meandering pace of the book slightly distracting, as I kept looking for clues as to when the stor ...more
May 08, 2009 Danielle rated it liked it
Shelves: gave-up
I'm about halfway into this book. I'm getting through it, but I'm not loving it. I really want to like it, but it's a bit aimless and choppy. The main character is a successful doctor who survived the foster care system, so she has some serious baggage - this should be a lot more compelling than it is - what's her point??? If you're going to give your book a provocative title like "The Mercy Rule," you should have something provocative to say, or at least something definitive to say! Have a poin ...more
Bobbi Heck
Apr 09, 2010 Bobbi Heck rated it really liked it
A former foster child who was adopted by her sixth-grade teacher, Lucy Weiss is a pediatrician at a clinic specializing in foster kids. Lucy's deep (and occasionally unprofessional) devotion to her work brings her into contact and conflict with mothers like charismatic Delia, who eventually abandons her three kids—each named after one of the Von Trapp children. In Lucy's own family, her somewhat absent professor husband begs off of birthday party and soccer duties, leaving her as primary parent ...more
Aug 27, 2008 Marjanne rated it liked it
This is a somewhat unusual story, but very interesting. I really liked the main character and her family. I also thought it was interesting to look inside Social Services a little more, but that it did not overwhelm the book. The author has a good point of view for parenting. I felt like I could have been good friends with the main character, Lucy. If I could have, I would give this book 3.5 stars. I will probably look into some of the author's other books. On the downside, there is a little lan ...more
Sep 09, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
"Isabel is drifting back to sleep herself now, in the unaccustomed cold, sweet air of the little wooden shelter hut. She is thinking about Alex, who was lying there, awake, thinking about her father. She thinks about her own parents, and what would happen if one of them got sick. About how inside Alex there are all these memories and these worries and these thoughts and these fears--and they still add up to someone who can't read a map or use a compass. But still, inside Alex there is all that s ...more
Elizabeth Walls
Aug 26, 2011 Elizabeth Walls rated it it was ok
This book should have been better. Many of the stories in it were interesting and engaging, but she never finished them. I felt like I was left hanging without knowing the end of anyone's story. I had problems with the changing point of view--come on! Decide if you're writing in first or third person and stick to it! And I am so tired of authors who feel like they need to pepper the dialogue with profanity. It doesn't improve your writing and makes you sound unintelligent.
Oct 24, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it
I can't decide if this is a 3 star or 2.5. The protaganist is a doctor who was in the foster care system as a child and now treats kids in the foster care system. The book reads more as a series of vignettes about her work life and home life (including lots of snarky comments about the other parents at her kids' prep school) and doesn't have much of a plot. I enjoyed reading about her work and the families she interacts with, but I wish there had been more of a plot.
Juliette Lantz
Aug 27, 2009 Juliette Lantz rated it it was amazing
Great read - this is story about a doctor who works for the department of Social Services, evaluating children at risk in their homes or in the foster care system - a system she survived. As a mom, she is also struggling to relate to the needs/personalities of her own two children. Her upbringing, career and current family life are all woven intricately together, and I felt like I knew her personally almost immediately.

Will recommend for a bookclub reading!!
Mar 11, 2009 Natasha rated it it was ok
I'm actually not sure why I continued to read this one after the first few chapters. It's hard to follow and jumps around a lot. While I was intrigued about the storyline at first, I found it was not what I expected. I thought it would be more about how the doctor determines whether or not to have children removed from their homes. But in fact, it doesn't really talk much about that at all. It's more about this doctor's home life than the foster care system.
Megan Tiscareno
Jul 26, 2010 Megan Tiscareno rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
The author clearly knows how to write, but this book lacks a cohesiveness that would keep the reader interested. As a novel, this fails, majorly. It seems to be more like a collection of short stories about the same characters, and there is never a resolution or conclusion to the stories that she tells. Each story individually is interesting and the writing is very good, and I was really intrigued by the main character, but I would not recommend this book.
Aug 28, 2011 Vicki rated it liked it
I liked the premise, a pediatrician who was a foster kid, who is a doctor to foster kids, and trying to raise her own kids. Interesting layering of one persons perspective.

However, there were times where the writing was really disjointed, more stream of thought with vague connections.

I heard about Perri Klass thru my knitting circles, as she is a local and a knitter. I'd give one of her other books a try.
Catherine Hewitt
Oct 17, 2009 Catherine Hewitt rated it it was ok
I am a big fan of Perri Klass but this book felt kind of desperately thrown together in its plot line and denouement. Perhaps the plot reflects what she sees in her real-life job (pediatrician) and she wanted to use that material somehow in her writing. Overall she is a very talented writer and I've loved her short stories in the past. I would recommend skipping this book and reading some of her other works.
Jan 02, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Selected this book at random from the library, thinking that it was one I'd read the review for when it came out. It's more of a series of vignettes than a traditional story with a beginning, middle, and end. Liked the narrative tone used in writing from different characters points of view. Perri Klass is the doctor who wrote Quirky Kids, so she has good insight into describing her character Freddy.
Feb 11, 2009 Ellyn rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008
This novel centers around Lucy Weiss, a pediatrician at a clinic that serves foster kids, and her quirky family. It's not very cohesive; the story jumps around, and the author even switches from third person to first person at one point without explanation. I did enjoy getting to know the characters, and I liked reading about Lucy's work with foster kids and low income families.
Feb 24, 2009 Karen rated it liked it
Nice, easy to read fiction riffing on that theme of the overprivileged and where all the craziness with how we treat each other via our children will end.

Frankly, it got it's third star because of the concept of a Mercy Rule in real life. There are SO many times I look at a crowd of parents and kids and, what happened to the mercy rule?
Jul 11, 2009 L. rated it did not like it
This book was very frustrating. The characters were great; well developed and believable. However, there is absolutely no plot. The story is like a slice of life from this family, but there is no definitive beginning,middle, or end. I wish someone would go back and use the characters to create an actual story. It could have been great.
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Perri Klass is a pediatrician who writes fiction and non-fiction. She writes about children and families, about medicine, about food and travel, and about knitting. Her newest book is a novel, The Mercy Rule, and the book before that was a work of non-fiction, Treatment Kind and Fair: Letters to a Young Doctor, written in the form of letters to her older son as he starts medical school.
She lives i
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