Mercy Come Morning (previously published as Christmas Every Morning) by Lisa T. Bergren, not connecting her to the Lisa Tawn Bergren who wrote God Gave Us the World (which I reviewed a few months ago).
That connection was a fun discovery. As was the realization that Bergren lives in Colorado Springs -- which is where the novel opens. Most of the story, however, occurs in Taos, New Mexico.
Krista is a history professor in the Springs, where she is successful, respected and she doesn't have to interact with her dysfunctional mother, now in an Alzheimer's facility.
But at the beginning of December, she receives a phone call that her mother is slipping away, and she really does need to come now. The rest of the novel alternates between what is happening now and what has happened in Krista's past, and, through a recently discovered journal, what happened in her mother's past.
Can Krista come to a point where she can get past her traumatic childhood and all the issues that do still have a hold on her? What happens when she starts to see her past through eyes other than her own?
The story is told entirely from Krista's point of view, with her mother's side of things only presented through that journal or from words of her mother's only friend. The bouncing around in time never felt contrived or forced, and it was really great to watch Krista learn about her difficult mother.
Maybe my favorite single line though had to do with Krista's looks... that she carried at least an extra ten pounds. Even though she isn't "perfect" like practically every other book heroine, she still catches the eye of her childhood sweetheart...
That does get into my one real complaint about the book though. While Krista and Charlotte are both well written and fleshed out, the other major characters are not. Dane -- the director of the nursing home and Krista's high school sweetheart -- is pretty much perfect and one-dimensional. The only flaw the man has is that he doesn't read minds. Elena -- a very good friend to Charlotte, and both a mother figure and great friend to Krista -- is also practically perfect and fairly one-dimensional. I would have loved to see them both a bit more real, Dane especially.
The setting -- Taos -- is described so that you feel you are really there. Even if you've never been there. I've visited other parts of New Mexico, but never Taos. Through this novel, though, I feel like I've seen it myself.
Great story, great message about forgiveness, great setting... and you can read the first chapter for yourself here. Oh, and this isn't a book that I would unconditionally recommend for teens... there are some definite "adult" themes.
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received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
in exchange for this review.