I am an avid reader of Jodi Picoult books. To date, I have read eleven of her fifteen books. Eventually, I'd like to read them all. Mercy, the oldest vintage of books I've read by Picoult to date (published in 1996), is also the latest book I've checked off that list.
One of the things I appreciate about her as a writer is the amount of research she does for each novel and the extent to which she, and the reader who is along for the ride, explores different worlds, hobbies and careers against the backdrop of a larger story and struggle. Over the course of several novels, I have learned about America's dark, secret world of eugenics, graphic novels, the Amish, and in this novel, Scottish clans and the secret language of flowers.
Mercy deals with the issue of euthanasia and the right to die. It was written at a time when these issues were extremely hot button and new, given the Kevorkian trials and so forth. Having recently watched You Don't Know Jack on HBO about that time in recent American history, I found the story interesting, fresh and compelling.
However, unlike some of her other, more recent works, I felt as if the issue, euthanasia and the character who dealt most directly with this challenge, were secondary players in the larger story which looked at love and marriage. Typical Picoult novels address contentious issues through its major, not minor, players.
My next comment falls into the spoiler range, so, like Kate at Twenty-six to Life, I have written it in white text to allow those who would like to read it to highlight it and those who like their stories unspoiled to continue reading this post in ignorant bliss:
I must admit that I kept waiting for that typical Picoult twist (sometimes I think she is the M. Knight Shyamalan of modern literature, minus the bad movies like The Village, Lady in the Water and The Happening). In Mercy, it never came. My mind kept reeling, trying to predict the way Picoult would trick me and trip me up. In the end, the story was largely twist-free.
This novel also dealt with the supernatural and ghosts more than any other Picoult novel I've read to date, save Second Glance. Surprisingly, in both cases, the introduction of ghosts and the supernatural felt organic to the telling of the story.
As with almost all of Jodi Picoult's novels, Mercy did not disappoint. It left me with questions and hungering for more, pondering what happened to the characters once the story ended on the page.
One more Picoult novel down, only a few more to go...