Thursday, May 19, 2022

Mercy Street

Mercy StreetMercy Street by Jennifer Haigh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Highly recommended: Suspenseful, read-aloud writing, incredible characterizations, and as prescient as possible given its theme of a woman who works as a counselor in an abortion clinic. As Ron Charles wrote in the Washington Post, "Mercy Street carefully sketches out the geography of poverty, that invisible realm that lies just beyond the horizon of middle-class life. Without condescension or sentimentality, Jennifer Haigh describes people who aspire to live in a double-wide trailer, who must decide between paying the water bill and the cable bill, who feel the humiliation of using food stamps. Indeed, that life was Claudia’s adolescence, a background that makes her particularly attuned to the logic of the clinic’s poorer clients."

He goes on "Claudia’s mother, who had no particular interest in parenting, took in foster kids expressly to get extra cash from the state. Haigh never pushes on this theme, but she doesn’t need to: It’s clear that Claudia’s early exposure to the multitude of children unwanted by anyone and carelessly warehoused by the government has made her determined to present women with real reproductive choices."
The descriptions of snowy NE weather and roads, and conversations among the wildly varied cast of characters were on the mark, as, I imagine, were the strange mental meanderings of the gun freak haunting the Internet. Reminded me a bit of The Beans of Egypt, Maine Fine work.

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