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Mercy's Birds Paperback – Sep 19 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Tundra Books; 1st Edition edition (Sept. 19 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887764630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887764639
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.3 x 19.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #175,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-Mercy, her mother Pearl, and her Aunt "Moo" have been on a downward socioeconomic slide for some time. As the novel opens, the teen is adjusting to yet another new school and to the realization that her aunt's boyfriend, who made sexual advances toward Mercy and threatened to hurt her if she told anyone, is due to return from an overseas job. Like her mother, who has become clinically depressed, and her aunt, who has retreated into an alcoholic haze, the girl begins to withdraw. A new friend and her employer keep reaching out to her and, to her credit, she hangs on to the ropes they throw. When Mercy's mother is hospitalized for her depression and her aunt's boyfriend returns, Mercy finds the strength to stand up to him. The novel deals with issues of poverty, depression, suicide, molestation, and alcoholism with delicacy, but without glossing over the harsh realities. Aunt Moo and Pearl are unconventional yet believable. The situations at school, especially when Mercy is interacting with her peers or the school counselor, are painfully realistic. The only weaknesses are in a few minor details, including the bird image of the title that is awkwardly woven into several scenes. Even though there is no Hollywood ending, readers are left with the hope that this family will find ways to rebuild the unit they almost lost.-Lucinda Lockwood, Thomas Haney Secondary School, Maple Ridge, BC

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

“The novel deals with issues of poverty, depression, suicide, molestation, and alcoholism with delicacy, but without glossing over the harsh realities.”
School Library Journal

“Holeman addresses poverty, abuse, and depression with compassion and a perceptive eye. Eloquent and impacting, Mercy’s story is an engrossing one, charged with emotional depth.”
Booklist

“Holeman’s depiction of Mercy’s inner life feels real, and many of the scenes are charged, while steering clear of melodrama. I was touched by Mercy’s Birds and I think a lot of teenagers will be too.”
Quill & Quire

“This novel is layered with imagery, drama, and an understanding of the painful emotions associated with life in an abusive and alcoholic situation…Award-winning novelist Linda Holeman has written a powerful novel that…features a strong and indomitable heroine.”
Canadian Book Review Annual

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Most helpful customer reviews

By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 28 2004
Format: Paperback
"Mercy's Birds" is a rare book -- a book that is actually quite like real life, without being depressing or unrealistic. It's a vivid, poetic, bittersweet look at things like clinical depression, poverty, child abuse, and Linda Holeman does a wonderful job of bringing them to life.
Mercy lives with her mother Pearl and her Aunt Moo, both impoverished and eking out a meager living with the help of Moo's boyfriend Barry (known as B), who is off in Indonesia. One day, Mercy chops off her blonde hair and dyes it black. It's only one of the ways she is trying to harden herself against the ever-worsening conditions of her life: Her mother's sinking depression, her aunt's blossoming alcoholism, and B's sexual advances (and threats if she tells on him).
At her new school, Mercy has few friends, even though a girl called Andrea is trying to befriend her. The only people she really communicates with is her Italian-American boss, Vince, and the kindly Mamma Gio. But Mercy's already-difficult life takes a sharp downward turn when Pearl overdoses on pills, and B announces that he's returning.
Things are bad when "Mercy's Birds" starts, and they only improve near the end. Even then, it's not improvements that defy belief. Rather, it's about a fractured, battered family growing back together, and gaining a strong little circle of friends. There's no perky "happily ever after," but things are winding up to become happier and brighter.
Holeman's writing is very vivid, and full of symbolism (such as the bright mask that Mercy creates, or her stiff black hair). She doesn't milk tragedy or sadness for sympathy, and the background she makes for each character is very realistic.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
By alison on Nov. 14 2002
Format: Paperback
"Nothing - not bird claws, and not fingers, especially not B's fingers - would
ever tangle themselves in my hair again, scaring me, holding me prisoner." Mercy
Donnelly has just started a new high school at the end of October, and her fellow grade
10 classmates are reluctant to accept her dark wardrobe and short, choppy jet-black hair.
Mercy rarely lets anyone get close to her, and isolates herself from the world. To make
matters worse, her life at home is no better. Her mother, Pearl, is slowly falling into a
deep depression, and most of her time is spent lying awake on her bed, staring at her
plain walls and closed curtains that haven't been opened in months. Mercy's aunt,
Maureen (whom Mercy has always called "Moo"), has just chosen a new boyfriend to
bring into their home. His real name hasn't yet been announced, for Mercy and Pearl
always refer to him as "B". B is away for work at the moment, and while he is away,
Mercy is trying to sum up the courage to tell Moo or Pearl about what he's been saying to
her, and doing to her when they're alone. However, it's hard for her to do this because
Pearl doesn't have a job and the money that Moo and Mercy make doesn't add up to
enough to support them, so B's monthly checks are what they've been living on.
However, Mercy knows it's in her best interest to stand up for herself and what she
knows is the right thing to do.
Mercy's life finally takes a small turn for the better when she makes a new friend
at school, Andrea. Andrea is an outgoing, yet not overly interesting person, but is a great
help for Mercy to have around. Also, Mercy's routine of working at the local flower shop
is relaxing and therapeutic for her, and helps to take her stress off.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
By alison on Nov. 14 2002
Format: Paperback
"Nothing - not bird claws, and not fingers, especially not B's fingers - would
ever tangle themselves in my hair again, scaring me, holding me prisoner." Mercy
Donnelly has just started a new high school at the end of October, and her fellow grade
10 classmates are reluctant to accept her dark wardrobe and short, choppy jet-black hair.
Mercy rarely lets anyone get close to her, and isolates herself from the world. To make
matters worse, her life at home is no better. Her mother, Pearl, is slowly falling into a
deep depression, and most of her time is spent lying awake on her bed, staring at her
plain walls and closed curtains that haven't been opened in months. Mercy's aunt,
Maureen (whom Mercy has always called "Moo"), has just chosen a new boyfriend to
bring into their home. His real name hasn't yet been announced, for Mercy and Pearl
always refer to him as "B". B is away for work at the moment, and while he is away,
Mercy is trying to sum up the courage to tell Moo or Pearl about what he's been saying to
her, and doing to her when they're alone. However, it's hard for her to do this because
Pearl doesn't have a job and the money that Moo and Mercy make doesn't add up to
enough to support them, so B's monthly checks are what they've been living on.
However, Mercy knows it's in her best interest to stand up for herself and what she
knows is the right thing to do.
Mercy's life finally takes a small turn for the better when she makes a new friend
at school, Andrea. Andrea is an outgoing, yet not overly interesting person, but is a great
help for Mercy to have around. Also, Mercy's routine of working at the local flower shop
is relaxing and therapeutic for her, and helps to take her stress off.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Birds" flies Jan. 28 2004
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Mercy's Birds" is a rare book -- a book that is actually quite like real life, without being depressing or unrealistic. It's a vivid, poetic, bittersweet look at things like clinical depression, poverty, child abuse, and Linda Holeman does a wonderful job of bringing them to life.
Mercy lives with her mother Pearl and her Aunt Moo, both impoverished and eking out a meager living with the help of Moo's boyfriend Barry (known as B), who is off in Indonesia. One day, Mercy chops off her blonde hair and dyes it black. It's only one of the ways she is trying to harden herself against the ever-worsening conditions of her life: Her mother's sinking depression, her aunt's blossoming alcoholism, and B's sexual advances (and threats if she tells on him).
At her new school, Mercy has few friends, even though a girl called Andrea is trying to befriend her. The only people she really communicates with is her Italian-American boss, Vince, and the kindly Mamma Gio. But Mercy's already-difficult life takes a sharp downward turn when Pearl overdoses on pills, and B announces that he's returning.
Things are bad when "Mercy's Birds" starts, and they only improve near the end. Even then, it's not improvements that defy belief. Rather, it's about a fractured, battered family growing back together, and gaining a strong little circle of friends. There's no perky "happily ever after," but things are winding up to become happier and brighter.
Holeman's writing is very vivid, and full of symbolism (such as the bright mask that Mercy creates, or her stiff black hair). She doesn't milk tragedy or sadness for sympathy, and the background she makes for each character is very realistic. And even though the world Mercy lives in is in some ways a very dark place, Holeman reminds us that dreams can still come true.
Mercy is not your typical troubled teen. As we see, her angst and anger are a way of coping with the very real problems of her life, especially problems she can't deal with alone. Her mom is virtually a nonentity, and Aunt Moo is at least trying to make an impression, even if she doesn't quite know how. Good supporting characters are the twinkly-eyed Italian widow Mama Gio and her son Vince.
"Mercy's Birds" is a unique book, and not one just for young adults. Beautiful, bittersweet, and will linger in your mind after you finish it. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Mercy's Birds rings with truth. March 26 2000
By "librariantina" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mercy's Birds, by Linda Holeman, is an excellent book. Readers of Judy Blume and other so called "realistic Young Adult fiction" will appreciate Holeman's realistic portrayl of Mercy, a bright young lady with some very serious problems. 15-yr-old Mercy has chosen to wear nothing but black, in response to her messed-up home life and other factors. Her teen angst is real; Mercy is facing some very serious problems. There is no sugar coating here - everyone in Mercy's world is messed up, and there are no pat answers. What makes this book unique and wonderful is the insightful way that Mercy views her world and analyzes her problems. Holeman manages to give us a book in which the characters face serious and sad problems, yet with an uplifting ending. The moral of this story is that being true to yourself is the most important thing one can do, no matter what scary things one is facing. I highly reccomend this book for young adults, but also for those who work with young adults, troubled or otherwise. This book will make you remember what it's like to be 15.
Touched my life....... Nov. 14 2002
By alison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Nothing - not bird claws, and not fingers, especially not B's fingers - would
ever tangle themselves in my hair again, scaring me, holding me prisoner." Mercy
Donnelly has just started a new high school at the end of October, and her fellow grade
10 classmates are reluctant to accept her dark wardrobe and short, choppy jet-black hair.
Mercy rarely lets anyone get close to her, and isolates herself from the world. To make
matters worse, her life at home is no better. Her mother, Pearl, is slowly falling into a
deep depression, and most of her time is spent lying awake on her bed, staring at her
plain walls and closed curtains that haven't been opened in months. Mercy's aunt,
Maureen (whom Mercy has always called "Moo"), has just chosen a new boyfriend to
bring into their home. His real name hasn't yet been announced, for Mercy and Pearl
always refer to him as "B". B is away for work at the moment, and while he is away,
Mercy is trying to sum up the courage to tell Moo or Pearl about what he's been saying to
her, and doing to her when they're alone. However, it's hard for her to do this because
Pearl doesn't have a job and the money that Moo and Mercy make doesn't add up to
enough to support them, so B's monthly checks are what they've been living on.
However, Mercy knows it's in her best interest to stand up for herself and what she
knows is the right thing to do.
Mercy's life finally takes a small turn for the better when she makes a new friend
at school, Andrea. Andrea is an outgoing, yet not overly interesting person, but is a great
help for Mercy to have around. Also, Mercy's routine of working at the local flower shop
is relaxing and therapeutic for her, and helps to take her stress off. She also finds hope
through the storeowner, Vince, and his mother whom everyone calls "Mamma Gio." Yet
suddenly, everyone is abruptly shaken and woken up with a jolt when Pearl overdoses on
a bottle of painkillers and winds up in a psychiatric ward of a hospital nearby. Mercy and
Moo are forced to deal with the feelings and situations that arise because of this startling
news.
This is one of the novels that I can relate to the closest out of the ones I've read
before. Mercy and I have a lot in common, and I feel like I'm reading a novel about
myself in some ways. I wouldn't recommend this novel to everyone, because I think that
it only applies to certain personality types. I also wouldn't recommend it to everyone
because I feel like I'd be sharing things with people that I just want to be my own. I know
that that sounds extremely selfish, but there are certain exceptions to novels that are this
touching. Yet at the same time, I want to recommend this novel to everyone, hoping that
they can too get as much out of it as I did. However, this book has been really inspiring
and helpful to me, and will hopefully help others the same way that it has helped me.
Touched my life....... Nov. 14 2002
By alison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Nothing - not bird claws, and not fingers, especially not B's fingers - would
ever tangle themselves in my hair again, scaring me, holding me prisoner." Mercy
Donnelly has just started a new high school at the end of October, and her fellow grade
10 classmates are reluctant to accept her dark wardrobe and short, choppy jet-black hair.
Mercy rarely lets anyone get close to her, and isolates herself from the world. To make
matters worse, her life at home is no better. Her mother, Pearl, is slowly falling into a
deep depression, and most of her time is spent lying awake on her bed, staring at her
plain walls and closed curtains that haven't been opened in months. Mercy's aunt,
Maureen (whom Mercy has always called "Moo"), has just chosen a new boyfriend to
bring into their home. His real name hasn't yet been announced, for Mercy and Pearl
always refer to him as "B". B is away for work at the moment, and while he is away,
Mercy is trying to sum up the courage to tell Moo or Pearl about what he's been saying to
her, and doing to her when they're alone. However, it's hard for her to do this because
Pearl doesn't have a job and the money that Moo and Mercy make doesn't add up to
enough to support them, so B's monthly checks are what they've been living on.
However, Mercy knows it's in her best interest to stand up for herself and what she
knows is the right thing to do.
Mercy's life finally takes a small turn for the better when she makes a new friend
at school, Andrea. Andrea is an outgoing, yet not overly interesting person, but is a great
help for Mercy to have around. Also, Mercy's routine of working at the local flower shop
is relaxing and therapeutic for her, and helps to take her stress off. She also finds hope
through the storeowner, Vince, and his mother whom everyone calls "Mamma Gio." Yet
suddenly, everyone is abruptly shaken and woken up with a jolt when Pearl overdoses on
a bottle of painkillers and winds up in a psychiatric ward of a hospital nearby. Mercy and
Moo are forced to deal with the feelings and situations that arise because of this startling
news.
This is one of the novels that I can relate to the closest out of the ones I've read
before. Mercy and I have a lot in common, and I feel like I'm reading a novel about
myself in some ways. I wouldn't recommend this novel to everyone, because I think that
it only applies to certain personality types. I also wouldn't recommend it to everyone
because I feel like I'd be sharing things with people that I just want to be my own. I know
that that sounds extremely selfish, but there are certain exceptions to novels that are this
touching. Yet at the same time, I want to recommend this novel to everyone, hoping that
they can too get as much out of it as I did. However, this book has been really inspiring
and helpful to me, and will hopefully help others the same way that it has helped me.
Dark book Dec 29 2012
By Renee L. Sullivan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is dark and gloomy. I purchased to use with depressed teens but did not find it helpful at all and it, perhaps, even made things worse. I don't recommend this book.


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