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January 24, 2024

Mercury by Amy Jo Burns ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

A roofing family’s bonds of loyalty are tested when they uncover a long-hidden secret at the heart of their blue-collar town.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of women's fiction novel Mercury by Amy Jo Burns
January 2024; Celadon Books; 978-1250908568
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); women's fiction

In 1990, 17-year-old Marley and her mom arrived in Mercury,  Pennsylvania.  They have moved around a lot in Marley's young life and what she is really wishing for is to be part of a family and to set down roots.  Will Mercury be the place where she can achieve this dream?  Very early on in her time in Mercury, she meets the Joseph family.  They are long-time residents of the town and the father and his two oldest sons work as roofers in a business that's barely making ends meet.  She begins to date Baylor, the oldest son, and his mother invites her to dinner at his house where she meets the rest of the family.  The middle son is Waylon, who she ends up married to, the youngest Shay is still in school and not part of the family business yet.  The father Mick is the proud patriarch who rules the family and his wife Elsie, who is the real leader of the family.  She really interests Marley and she is enthralled with the way Elsie leads the family with what appears to be her total devotion to her husband and sons despite the fact that she appears cold and reserved.  After Marley gets pregnant, she and Waylon move into the family home where her relationship with Elsie goes from bad to worse.  What changes can Marley make to the family as they move forward with their struggling business and their lack of understanding of each other?  She brings a totally different attitude into the house but will the family change or will she lose her bright outlook of the future?

Mercury was a character-driven novel and what characters they all were.  Every one of them is flawed in a different way and it separates them as a family.  This is a look at a real hard-working family and the small town that has judged them over the years.  There is a bit of mystery - a body is found in the attic of the local church that they all attend.  There is also romance between Marley and Waylon - romance that starts hot and then cools way down as day-to-day life extinguishes it.  Is there any way for them to fall totally in love again?  Then there is the youngest son Shay who is hiding a big secret from his family.  And last is Elsie.  Marley tries to figure her out and admires her and then after a while in the house, she quits talking to her when she realizes how flawed she really is.  Is there ever a chance that they will become friends again?

Even though Marley is really the moving force in this novel, the author manages to give us a complete look at the three sons and the parents.  The more we get to know about the sons, the more interesting they become and the reader learns to understand their motivations and hidden feelings..

My overall feeling about this book is that it was beautifully written with characters who came alive during the novel.  The author does a wonderful job with her characters to make them likable when at first they are all pretty easy to dislike.  It's a close and personal look at a working-class family in a small town and the struggles that they go through. I am still thinking about this book weeks after I finished it, which is a sign of an excellent book to me.  The more I got to know about the characters, the more I wanted to know.  i was hoping for a happy ending but wasn't really sure what happiness would mean to this family. This book is an excellent book about family, love, and secrets and I highly recommend it.

Buy Mercury at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.

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