The Canada Reads blurb for the book:
“When 12-year-old Sydney Henderson pushes Connie Devlin from a church roof, he makes a pact with God to never harm another soul if the boy survives.
Everything in Mercy Among the Children stems from this defining incident. After Connie gets up from the fall unscathed, Sydney goes through life in state of almost masochistic passivity and pacifism, in spite of the intolerance and ridicule he faces in his rural New Brunswick community.
Sydney’s choices eventually have consequences for his entire family, particularly his volatile son Lyle, who cannot comprehend his father’s turn-the-other-cheek attitude. When Sydney is implicated in a heinous crime in his Miramichi Valley community, Lyle decides that violence might be a more effective way to clear his family’s name.
Richards has been compared to Tolstoy for the moral questions he raises in this wrenching story. The novel is a compassionate depiction of people who struggle to endure the legacy of abuse, poverty and misfortune they’ve inherited from their parents.
Released to much praise in 2000, Mercy Among the Children was named one of the best books of the year by the Globe and Mail and Ottawa Citizen, and won the Scotiabank Giller Prize.”
Other useful links:
the Canada Reads page for Mercy Among the Children
Before – This book has garnered much critical acclaim. Sometimes this heralds a good book, other times the book doesn’t live up to its hype. We’ll see which one Mercy turns out to be.