Jason Koivu's Reviews > A Mercy

A Mercy by Toni Morrison
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction, historical-fiction, history

Toni, Toni, Toni...it feels good to know you again.

A Mercy is a gorgeous narrative of a dark time that flitters from person to person: child, slave, sympathetic Dutch businessman, mother. Betrayal is ever present, even seemingly from mother to child.

The setting and subject is slavery in 17th century America, specifically Catholic Maryland. These are early days in the New World. Superstition was rife. Black magic and the devil were palpably real.

With a bevy of glimpses Morrison displays most of the facets of slavery in this period, in this place. She does not forget that it was black Africans who kidnapped and sold black Africans to white Europeans, who sold them into slavery. She did not forget that white slavery existed in this time. She wrote about a people's strife without bended knee and bleeding heart, and yet your heart will bleed.

Admittedly, I was turned off within the first few pages, because of the gypsy narration. I like permanence in my storytelling voice and this was very reminiscent of William Faulkner's The Sound and The Fury with its variant and confusing p.o.v.s and its scene setting via murky imagery. But I stuck with it, soon was enjoying A Mercy and in the end, came to love it.

The writing is so strong, emotive and filled with vivid imagery. It is the kind of writing that inspires writers in their craft.

This was a revisit to an old acquaintance for me. Not since college have I read a Toni Morrison novel. I loved it then, so why the delay? Why do we do that? When you only have one life - a single existence which could be snuffed out in an instance - why neglect the good things in life? Cherish what you have. It may be taken from you. Though we can only hope fate will be merciful.
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Reading Progress

September 29, 2011 – Shelved
December 14, 2014 – Started Reading
December 19, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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Jason Koivu Karly *The Vampire Ninja* wrote: "Beautiful review, Jason. And I love those final thoughts :)"

Thanks, Ninja!


message 4: by Arah-Lynda (new)

Arah-Lynda Beautiful Jason.


Jason Koivu Arah-Lynda wrote: "Beautiful Jason."

Thank you!


message 6: by Joe (new) - added it

Joe Nice. I was browsing my stacks just last night and discovered that I own this book. Morrison's Jazz was similar for me. Once I quit trying so hard, the texture of the story came through. For me, Jazz felt like a companion to The Great Gatsby.


Jason Koivu Joe wrote: "Nice. I was browsing my stacks just last night and discovered that I own this book. Morrison's Jazz was similar for me. Once I quit trying so hard, the texture of the story came thr..."

I've been meaning to read Jazz for a while and now I want to even more.


message 8: by Dolors (last edited Dec 20, 2014 02:38AM) (new)

Dolors Spot-on adjective to describe Morrison's writing style. Gypsy. Precisely. She's got the jazz and the blood imprinted on her words.
"She wrote about a people's strife without bended knee and bleeding heart, and yet your heart will bleed." Oh yeah baby, I like it.


Jason Koivu Dolors wrote: "Spot-on adjective to describe Morrison's writing style. Gypsy. Precisely. She's got the jazz and the blood imprinted on her words.
"She wrote about a people's strife without bended knee and bleedin..."


Thanks, D!


Michael You capture so well some of the enthusiasm I felt with this book. I was hungrily cruising along with her books, six in a row solid four star, and then this one really hit it out of the park for me.


Jason Koivu Michael wrote: "You capture so well some of the enthusiasm I felt with this book. I was hungrily cruising along with her books, six in a row solid four star, and then this one really hit it out of the park for me."

Thank you! This one made me really want to dive back into her stuff.


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