Jennifer Jensen (Literally Jen)'s Reviews > Under the Mercy Trees

Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton
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Dec 05, 2010

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Read from November 19 to December 05, 2010

“Under the Mercy Trees” by Heather Newton, a family saga spanning 30 years, is a book that deserves to be read slowly and with concentration. The cast of characters was sometimes overwhelming for me, and if one does not pay careful attention to who is who and how they are related, it can be very easy to lose one’s way while reading this novel. By the time I reached the last section of this novel, I found myself wishing I’d kept a list of all of the characters and how they knew one another. Only a few characters really stood out to me; possibly because I read through this a little too quickly I missed a few things.

One of reasons I wanted to read “Under the Mercy Trees” is because the protagonist of the novel, Martin Owenby, is homosexual. I’ve read very few, if any, novels where a book has been told from a gay person’s point of view, and I was very interested in how a female author might portray this character. 30 years ago Martin Owenby left the small town of Solace Forks for New York to become a successful writer. His life seems anything but ideal, and he has become an alcoholic. When Martin’s older brother Leon goes missing, Martin must return home to aid in finding him--alive or dead. Once home, Martin is forced to confront unresolved tensions between family members and the girl whose heart he broke.

“Under the Mercy Trees” ended up being less of a mystery or thriller than I had anticipated, but I wasn’t disappointed in the least. I thoroughly enjoyed Newton’s writing style and the individuality each of her characters had, despite not being able to keep their connections to one another straight at first. I would definitely consider reading another of her books in the future, and may eventually re-read this one again to pick up on what I missed. The ending left me a little confused, so I’m positive I didn’t pick up on something.

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12/01/2010 page 72
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