The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

Synopsis:
A wealthy young woman takes a job transcribing the diary of a victim of the Salem witch trials, discovering a powerful love story that changes her perspective on her privileged life.

Review:
Deftly interweaving the very different stories of three headstrong women, Susan Meissner has crafted a novel that delivers a powerfully moving reading experience. I found myself on the verge of tears many times, overcome by Lauren’s journey as she inhabits the world of Mercy, a young woman fated to die by hanging during the Salem witch trials. The Shape of Mercy is one of those books that wraps around you like your comforter from high school–warm, familiar, and safe for crying.

Lauren is trying to untangle her identity from that of her family, a dynasty of self-made men. She’s haunted by the guilty feeling that she is playing at real life, and coming to the realization that her money colors the way she views the world. Mercy’s diary is owned by Abigail, an 83-year-old librarian who has also been surrounded by wealth, and now lives alone and lonely, with nothing she loves except for the diary. Lauren believes that Abigail is the victim of a broken heart, and fears the same fate for herself, because she can’t imagine that her cousin’s handsome friend Raul could ever really look her way.

I would recommend this book to both young adult and chick lit fans alike. Meissner’s prose has the simple depth of an Anne Tyler, and I think the book is the kind that gives you a different experience depending on where you are in your life when you read it.

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