Mercy Lily

( 1 )

Overview

I take the bees outside, unscrew the lid of the bee jar, and listen to their angry buzzing.
"I hate you," I whisper.

Lily's mother has slowly been losing herself to multiple sclerosis. After traditional treatment fails, she uses bee sting therapy, administered by Lily, to alleviate her pain. Lily is trained as a veterinary assistant, so she can easily handle the treatments. What she can't handle is what ...

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Mercy Lily

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Overview

I take the bees outside, unscrew the lid of the bee jar, and listen to their angry buzzing.
"I hate you," I whisper.

Lily's mother has slowly been losing herself to multiple sclerosis. After traditional treatment fails, she uses bee sting therapy, administered by Lily, to alleviate her pain. Lily is trained as a veterinary assistant, so she can easily handle the treatments. What she can't handle is what happens when the bee sting therapy fails and it becomes clear that her mom wants to die.

One beautiful spring day, Lily's mother asks her for the most impossible thing of all—mercy. While navigating first love, friendship, and other normal worries faced by high school sophomores, Lily also has to choose: help her mom go, or cling to her fading life for all it's worth.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Marla K. Unruh
Leaving her high school at the end of the day, Lily focuses on one thing as she moves past the other students on her way to the bus. She is trying not to think about what her very ill mother has asked her to do. It is hard enough to administer the honey bee therapy her mother has chosen, but she must consider another, even more difficult request. Lily loves her mother deeply and defends her right to choose, in spite of the deep conflict that her decision causes. At the same time, Lily's former best friend is monopolizing Lily's former boyfriend and treating her with a meanness that is hard to bear. Set in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, this first-person story is told in the voice of a thoughtful young adult who struggles to express her love by honoring an adult decision, yet finds daily comfort in the progress of a spider spinning its web. Her narration contains much true-to-life detail; in fact, at times, so much that it impacts the story's flow. The twin themes, however, of facing life one day at a time and of summoning the courage to make life-altering decisions, are treated with dignity and play out in such details as the transient blooming of a special lily in her mother's garden and the death-throes of a neighbor's calf. Teen readers will find this novel both affecting and thought provoking as they identify with Lily's agony and examine their own beliefs. Reviewer: Marla K. Unruh
VOYA - Nicole Jacques
Mercy Lily is a quick and enjoyable read, if a bit simple for the complex subject matter on which the novel is based. The conflicting emotions of Lily, the lead character, are described in such a way that any reader can easily sympathize with her inner turmoil, making this story a page-turner, especially because nothing, including both the virtuous and the shameful, is held back. Those who enjoy well written character development should take a look at Mercy Lily. 4Q, 3P. Reviewer: Nicole Jacques, Teen Reviewer
Kirkus Reviews

Oregon high-school sophomore Lily has been her widowed mother's caregiver for four years, injecting her with bee venom to counter the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis. When the venom stops working, Mom asks Lily to help her die.

Mom hasn't consulted a doctor since her MS specialist, father of Lily's love interest, refused to authorize bee-venom therapy (readers aren't told that clinical studies support his position). A veterinarian, she adheres to a strict "natural" healing regimen, even refusing hospital palliative care (perplexingly, the family diet is rich in processed foods). It's unclear why Mom, financially secure, largely ambulatory and surrounded by loving caregivers, arbitrarily rules out dialysis and palliative care that could ease her pain and allow her more time with Lily. Mom's decision to die and Lily's tritely resolved feelings about it are conveyed simplistically, without reference to a larger social context or acknowledgment that many who live with disabilities find "right to die" laws troubling. This debut, hobbled by its high-concept–but-unlikely premise, is further undermined by errors and inconsistencies, especially in its portrayal of the natural world. Though thematically central, nature itself receives slapdash treatment, and Oregon's vastly different climate zones are erroneously conflated.

Flimsy and forgettable.(Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738726991
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 10/8/2011
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 1,228,016
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Albert (Muskego, WI) grew up in the Midwest where she spent many summer afternoons reading at the public library. Albert is the author of three nonfiction books. This is her first book for young adults.

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