Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock

When the movie Public Enemy was partially filmed in Wisconsin several summers ago, it fed a renewed interest in the Great Depression, Prohibition, and of course, the gangsters who thrived during that time.  One of our young twenty something neighbors even got a "part" as an extra, and we all watched carefully to see her multi-second debut into the world of film.  Despite all this interest in the time period, I was surprised to see prohibition and its underworld the subject of a Christian novel.  I was even more surprised at what an entertaining story Ann Tatlock created with this subject.

Seventeen year-old Eve is delighted that she and her parents have left the Twin Cities to find work at her uncle's lodge in Ohio.  Eve believes that St. Paul has become too much a city of gangsters and danger, and she wants peace.  At first the Marryat Ballroom and Lodge seems ideal, providing not only a place to live and work, but also Eve's first chance at romance. Then Eve begins to see the realities around her.  Each day, bums from the nearby "camp" arrive outside the lodge for a handout.  When Eve makes friends with one young drifter named Link, her black and white views must face that life sometimes delivers gray.  As a tentative friendship develops with her uncle's reclusive, albino step-son, Eve sees the sensitivity and hurt in the young man, while others only see a frightening "red-eyed devil."  Like all of us, Eve finally must face that she has always been to quick to judge others, and maybe, just maybe, she doesn't have all the right answers.

I would recommend this story for young adult readers.  Ann Tatlock wove into the story some details about Al Capone which are not widely known.  I think those details added impact to the themes of forgiveness and judgment.  While I thought the story flowed, I anticipated every turn and twist, and I was left with no surprises.  Still, it was a fun read and worth the time.  I received a copy of this title for review purposes.  All opinions are mine.

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