The Miracle of Mercy Land

( 14 )

Overview

What if you had the power to amend choices you made in the past? Would you do it even if it changed everything?
 
Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in the 1930s. The sheltered daughter of a traveling preacher, she chooses to leave her rural community to move to nearby Bay City on the warm, gulf-waters of southern Alabama. There she finds a job at the local paper and spends seven years making herself ...
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Overview

What if you had the power to amend choices you made in the past? Would you do it even if it changed everything?
 
Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in the 1930s. The sheltered daughter of a traveling preacher, she chooses to leave her rural community to move to nearby Bay City on the warm, gulf-waters of southern Alabama. There she finds a job at the local paper and spends seven years making herself indispensible to old Doc Philips, the publisher and editor. Then she gets a frantic call at dawn—it’s the biggest news story of her life, and she can’t print a word of it.
           
Doc has come into possession of a curious book that maps the lives of everyone in Bay City—decisions they’ve made in the past, and how those choices affect the future. Mercy and Doc are consumed by the mystery locked between the pages—Doc because he hopes to right a very old wrong, and Mercy because she wants to fulfill the book’s strange purpose. But when a mystery from Mercy’s past arrives by train, she begins to understand that she will have to make choices that will deeply affect everyone she loves—forever.
 
“A tremendously well-written tale. River Jordan is a truly gifted author. Highly recommended.” – Davis Bunn, best-selling author
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Jordan (Saints in Limbo) writes magical realism, and the result is pure magic. The titular Mercy Land is a girl "born in a bolt of lightning on the banks of Bittersweet Creek." The talented Mercy is nudged by her Aunt Ida to leave her backwater town for the bright lights of Bay City, where she comes to work for and with Doc Philips, owner of the local paper. Doc receives a mysterious secret book that somehow narrates the lives of people in the area. From there springs the rest of the action, involving things done and not done in the past and a movie-star handsome stranger summoned to town by Doc. Jordan is an imaginative writer, developing engaging characters and strong dialog. Things get a tad heavy with allegorical meaning toward the end, but the plot trajectory helps the story's credibility. Jordan's talent raises the bar in Christian fiction.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher
Praise for The Miracle of Mercy Land

With words spoken like a gentle angel, River Jordan takes her reader deep into the human spirit. The Miracle of Mercy Land is a story about the past, the present, and the future all at once, not only altering the hearts of the characters in the novel, but also changing the heart of the reader. A triumph of beauty.” PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY, author of Losing the Moon, When Light Breaks, and the New York Times bestseller Driftwood Summer

“A tremendouslywell-written tale. River Jordan is a truly gifted author. Highly recommended.” —DAVIS BUNN, best-selling author of Gold of Kings and coauthor of the Acts of Faith series

“River Jordan takes us on a magical journey to the banks of Bittersweet Creek where the past is revisited and broken hearts aremended. A story told with equal parts Southern charm and supernatural fantasy, this one leaves you dreaming of a world where anything is possible. Jordan has cast her spell again!” —SUSAN GREGG GILMORE, author of The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove and Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen

“River Jordan’s words are so delicious that I read them aloud just so I could taste them. In The Miracle of Mercy Land, she explores destiny and will, good and evil, power and powerlessness. If you find it difficult to find a breath of literary fresh air, I assure you, you won’t be disappointed in Jordan.” —KAYA MCLAREN, author of On the Divinity of Second
Chances
and Church of the Dog

“In The Miracle of Mercy Land, River Jordan once again brings us a world filled with magic and light. Her characters walk straight off the pages and into our hearts.These are people we wish we knew, individuals with fullmeasures of courage, love, devotion, faith, loyalty, and goodness. Jordan strikes a blow for hope in a troubled time. She is a treasure, and The Miracle of Mercy Land is cause for celebration.” —RAYMOND L. ATKINS, winner of the 2009 Georgia
Author of the Year Award and author of The Front Porch Prophet and SorrowWood

“This story of a girl from Bittersweet Creek, Alabama, beats with a steady love and suspense as a young reporter and storycatcher discovers her destiny by a tremendous act of courage. Mercy Land has a heart as big and beautiful as River Jordan’s luminous prose.” —KERRY MADDEN, author of theMaggie Valley novels

“River Jordan draws the reader through this magically compelling tale of dark versus light, temptation versus self-knowledge, curiosity versus truth. One’s life is full of choices, and the right choice is not always so easy to determine. The Miracle of Mercy Land will keep the reader guessing.” —DARNELL ARNOULT, award-winning author of the novel
Sufficient Grace and What Travels with Us: Poems

“River Jordan has crafted a memorable spiritual thriller with beautiful prose, vivid characters, and a unique, haunting plot that grabs the reader by the arm and doesn’t let him go until he reaches the end. Mercy Land is a celebration of the goodness within us all. It’s also a prescient study of the good and evil that permeate every community,
both yours and mine.” —AD HUDLER, best-selling author of Man of the House, Southern Living, and Househusband

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307457059
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/7/2010
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,001,656
  • Product dimensions: 8.52 (w) x 11.28 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

River Jordan
River Jordan is a critically acclaimed novelist and playwright. Her previous works include Saints In Limbo and The Messenger of Magnolia Street.  She speaks around the country on the “Power of Story” and produces and hosts the radio series, Clearstory from Nashville, Tennessee where she makes her home.
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Read an Excerpt

 
ONE
 
I was born in a bolt of lightning on the banks of Bittersweet Creek. Mama said it was a prophecy, and as she is given to having visions of the biblical kind, no one argues with her. She can match what she sees with ancient words, and truth be told, she is frightening with the speaking of them. Mama can swipe you with her eyes so that you feel like you have either been hushed or resurrected by God’s own hand.
 
On the fateful day of my birth, there had been no signs, natural or otherwise, that foretold what the day would bring. No wild birds roosting in the trees, no funny-yolked eggs, no hints to suggest that a baby was about to show up in a stormy kind of way. The only visible condition at all had been Mama’s fat feet. They were so swollen by that time that they were no longer like feet at all. That’s what drove her down to the creek bed, searching out an herb known for helping such as this. She had on Daddy’s big boots on account of the fact that not a single pair of her own would fit over her feet, and she had just managed to get down to the water’s edge when the first thing happened: the storm came up. The second was I showed up, just as quick and sudden as the wild wind.
 
Mama tried to call for Ida, but her cries were snuffed by the rolling thunder. So there she was with bolts of lightning crashing all around, hitting the water—she told me she could feel that electricity run through her body, that it was like fire coming from the sky—then she cried out for mercy. That’s how me and Mama came to have a private moment suspended in the crook of the bank. By the time Aunt Ida found us, the storm had passed, the clouds had given way, and the blue sky hovered above her like an eagle’s eye. Mama said she took one look at me and said the only name that came to mind. “Mercy,” she whispered to me. I answered her with a wailing cry.
 
Bittersweet is a knotty gathering of simple people who live along the riverbank. The entire place is no more than a boot stomp. It has no official standing as a town at all. It is simply called that by the people who have built their lives along those banks. Had I stayed there, rocking on Aunt Ida’s front porch, watching the water rise and fall, fearing the floods and staying on in spite of them, I wouldn’t be in the middle of where I am now: Bay City. Well, they call it a city, such as it is. But it is nothing more, really, than a beautiful little town rolled out right around the warm, gulf water bay of southern Alabama. It is a city of refuge, bright with possibilities. Everyone who has ever crossed into this place feels that way right down to their toes. When you visit, it will make you believe that it is a place where you can live in fruitful fullness. All sugar, no spice. Or at least that was what it was like when I arrived.
 
But that was seven years ago. Everything was more peaceful then, but now, it seemed that the whole world was on the verge of war. President Roosevelt said we were staying out of it, but the dark things that were happening overseas tugged at our ankles like a small, nipping dog. The world would not go away no matter how much we tried to shake it off. The events that lay before us as a nation were a large, uncharted territory, watery in their shifting possibilities. The only thing certain was that the future would have to reveal itself in due time, and most likely it would be different from anything we had expected. In the meantime we went through our daily routine with a type of laughter we hoped would stave off impending enemies and allow our sacred routines to remain a part of our carefully plotted lives. For the moment the edges of our existence played out sweetly, simply, and untouched by the things we knew were happening beyond the borders of our existence. There was a whole ocean between us and the trouble. It seemed like an ocean should be enough.
 
Maybe that’s why, in the midst of our time of innocence and uncertainty, the very thing that happened to me was the most wildly unexpected: the mysterious wonder of something that I will attempt to understand fully for the rest of my days. I should make a feeble effort at explaining what took place. My words might be nothing more than a ripple across the waters of time, but they are surely better than no record at all. It began last winter along the Alabama shores. And it was all because of Doc. That’s where the business started.
 
Doc Philips owned the Banner, and owning Bay City’s only paper was better than being mayor. It was better than being anybody else in town. People trusted Doc with the most important thing of all—the truth.
 
The second best thing to owning the paper is what I did. I was Doc’s assistant, and that meant I was really the assistant editor. To his credit, Doc tried to give me that title, but it didn’t stick because people just called me Doc’s girl. That’s what they’d say ’cause it made it easy on them. No official title would tarry. They made up their own. Doc’s girl. I didn’t mind.
 
The Banner was my life, and I loved everything about it. It was a pinch-me-quick-I’m-dreaming kind of situation: the smell of the ink from the printer downstairs. I could probably typeset the whole thing, but that’s Herman’s job, though I’ve helped him in a rush, put on an apron, and hit the presses with him showing me the ropes. I know the smell and sound of every corner of the Banner. The ticker machines clicking off the news by the minute, going to sleep when nothing in the world is happening but then coming alive all at once when the wires are just burning up with stories. That’s my favorite part of the job: getting the skinny on what’s happening around the world before most folks have even had their morning coffee.
 
Sometimes we ran the stories just the way they were, straight off the wire, but other times Doc decided to give them a little local flavor. He’d tie in DiMaggio’s home run with what one of the local boys did Saturday down at the park. That’s the way he was— “bringing it home,” he called it. “Let’s just remember, Mercy,” he’d tell me. “The news doesn’t mean a thing at all unless we’re bringing it home.”
 
I always said, “You got it, Doc. Sure thing.” But I didn’t get a huge chance to bring the big news home. That was Doc’s job. I wrote up the smaller stories that happened around Bay City, like all the events of people’s lives that must be made public. Births and deaths, marriages and other procurements. Doc covered the real news—any criminal cases, bank robberies, and kidnappings. Since we hadn’t had any of those, he mostly reported on things like the new traffic light going in and the worldwide news from the wire.
 
But that was before Doc’s big secret showed up in town. It’s not that I loved the paper less; neither did Doc. How could we? It was the heart of Bay City and the pulse of the world. But then something just appeared—from another world or time or, well, let’s just say, it sure wasn’t from around here. To say it became a distraction would be a flat-out lie. It became an obsession.Doc swore me to complete secrecy so that no one in town knew a thing. But that wasn’t the toughest part; he swore me to keep the secret even from everyone in Bittersweet Creek. All of them thought I was going about my regular life, taking care of business and printing the news. They were completely wrong. The greatest story in the entire world had fallen right into my hands, and I couldn’t print a word of it.
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Reading Group Guide

1. The novel opens with the birth ofMercy Land along the backwaters of Bittersweet Creek, a small, rural outcropping of people where she is raised, but the character later moves to a nearby city. Have you ever found yourself living in a place very different from the one you grew up in? Did you remain there or return “home” again? How did the change of place or the return home affect your life?

2. There is an undercurrent of the influence thatMercy’s mother and father had on her life by their steady presence and certain faith. However, another person in Bittersweet Creek also had a lot of input into her upbringing. How was Aunt Ida’s influence different from that ofMercy’s parents? How mightMercy’s life have turned out differently without Aunt Ida? Have you had a similar experience in your life?Were there other family members or friends who contributed to your life experience in a distinct way?

3. Part of Mercy Land’s moxie comes from her rural upbringing where she had the freedom to run and romp along the trees and creeks in a fearless kind of way. How was your childhood similar or different? Do you believe having a more sheltered life as a child might cause a person to be more hesitant or fearful of the unknown?

4. One thread running through the novel isMercy’s relationship with Doc. Perhaps in the beginning Doc was a bit of a hero, a larger-than-life character toMercy, who saw him and his wife, Opal, as a king and queen of Bay City. Throughout the story their relationship changes as he becomes her boss, her mentor, and ultimately her friend. Have you experienced relationships that have gone through stages or seasons of change? How have those changes affected the relationships?

5. When Doc’s book shows up, at firstMercy is hesitant to touch it.Why?Why does she change her mind? Do you think she ever really regretted seeing the book and wished that Doc had kept the secret to himself?

6. Mercy becomes dedicated to solving the riddle of the book, fulfilling that purpose, and it being returned to where it belonged. What characteristics does she possess that allow her to tread through such mystical, supernatural waters?

7. John Quincy’s appearance in Bay City stirs up conflicting emotions and revelations for Mercy.What stands out to you as the most prevalent internal conflict? As the story progresses, how does Mercy come to terms with these things?

8. The story is told through the eyes of three main characters: Mercy, Doc, and John Quincy.Whose voice resonates most with you? Did you enjoy hearing the story from one character’s point of view more than the others’? If so, why?

9. The novel is set a few years before World War II, in 1938. How did this time period affect your experiencing the characters, the setting, and the events?

10. The book reveals the paths that people have chosen—and the ones that they have left behind. Have you ever considered some of the choices you made in life to have been a major turning point for you? Do you think that your life would have been much different had you taken another road or that you would be exactly where you are at this point in your life regardless? Is life more a destiny created by our choices or an inherent fate that cannot be changed?

11. A strange woman shows up in Bay City in search of John Quincy. Ultimately, she knows about the book and wants control of it. Who do you think Pricilla really is? If she were a symbolic representation for something, what do you believe that would be?

12. John Quincy eventually experiences deep changes, but they certainly weren’t the ones he was hoping for or expecting.
Do you think he ultimately makes a change for the better? When you have experienced changes or events in life that have been different than you anticipated, was the outcome sometimes better than you expected? Have you learned things or built relationships through these unexpected turns of events?

13. Mercy comes to believe that the book is primarily a book of stories—one that illustrates clearly how those lives, those stories, interrelate and intersect. Do you believe that our choices affect not only our lives but also the lives of those around us? That even people we don’t know are affected by our choices?

14. The daily newspaper in Bay City plays a significant role in the novel. Why is it so important? How does it affect the story’s unfolding? Why do Doc and Mercy love the paper so much?

15. When you turn the last page of The Miracle of Mercy Land, what is the strongest impression the novel leaves with you? If you were to have one takeaway memory of the novel— something you could apply to your everyday world—what would it be?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 4, 2013

    The Miracle of Mercy Land was in the end a great read. The setti

    The Miracle of Mercy Land was in the end a great read. The setting of the book is set in the early 1900′s but for me it felt a lot more modern. The only time I really felt I was in that era was when the scenes in a dance club occurred. The book starts off rather slow. Mercy Land is the main character. She is very easy to fall in love with and take her side in the story.




    It took me a while to read the book because the beginning did not reel me in so I had to force myself to read it. The high point of the book is where Mercy is confronted with a person from her past after a long time passing. Once they reunite their adventure becomes a roller coaster ride of both physical and mental emotion.




    The secret of the plot lies in the “Book” that Mercy’s boss Doc was entrusted with. In order to discover the story within this story you really have to read this book. I can guarantee that if you get past the first third of the book you will love it.




    This isn’t a story where everything is wrapped up in a neat package. There are still questions. There is still … mystery and wonder.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Left me scratching my head.

    I have mixed feelings about it. I'll start with the positives: Wonderful characters, a great narrative voice with colorful word pictures, original story plot, and a lovely town setting not unlike Mayberry-- this book would make a great Hallmark movie. Things I did not like: We are told second hand that the book shows the viewer other people's lives. But how about an illustration to make this abnormality feel more realistic? I would have loved being a viewer along with Mercy, not just told she saw "something." This book is quite repetitive in dialogue ("The book came to us for a purpose, Mercy. We just need to find out why..." over and over and over again), and a lot of the scenes felt like they didn't have a reason necessary to the story plot. The book tries to survive on suspense, but that suspense often felt like a rubber band stretched too far for too long. And when we come to the end, the real purpose of the book felt... disappointing. I guess I'm not saying that it should have a had different purpose, but when the plot is strung on that suspense the whole way through, it felt like a little bit of a letdown at the end. But what really has me scratching my head is, I'm wondering what the author's biblical worldview is. Don't get me wrong. I am not one of those that thinks Christian writers should preach in their books. I agree with C. S. Lewis that what the world doesn't need is more Christian books, but more Christians writing good books. But this is one Christian fiction book in which I think it would have been appropriate to have a forthright Christian message. For ex., one of the main "lessons" in this story is that Mercy becomes more confident in who she is, and finds the courage to stay true and do the right thing in the end. Great lesson. But she learns that "who she is" is where she was born and raised -- a simple backwoods community. In fact, when confronted by demonic forces, Doc and Ida Mae try to physically fence off Mercy as she relies on herself and her background to ward them off. Huh?? Esp. in that situation, shouldn't she be claiming the victory she has in Jesus, and relying on Him? That is the only way to overcome our spiritual enemies. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, as the book of Ephesians in the Bible says. As Christians, our identity is not where we were raised (although that can help form our personalities and values). We realize that our identity is in Jesus and we are complete in Him, if we are born-again believers. I wondered why, if the main characters were lacking wisdom for so long, why they didn't think to pray for God to give them guidance? Nice ending, but there were too many vague threads left hanging. How did John escape the clutches of the Enemy? Would I recommend this book? Well, even though I have my hackles, it certainly is thought-provoking and I recommend it on that score. Anybody can learn a thing or two and benefit from reading it. I think this could be a good book for teens, since it shows that the choices we make are not reversible. We cannot go back and undo the past, but we can be aware of the effect our present choices can have on the future. A great reminder in the day and age of Instant-Now and Don't-Think-Twice. By the way-- was I the only one who pictured John Quincy looking like John Cusack??

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  • Posted May 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Quite Unexpected!!

    Reading the synopsis of this book, my expectations were high. I was looking forward to a scintillating story line and an investigation into the mystery. That's exactly what I got but in a totally different path. The story started out very good but then the introduction of the "curious book" was nothing like I had imagined. It was more of a fantasy book rather than a mystery or thriller. Personally, that's not really my favorite genre. But since I had started it, I wanted to finish it. The book is written from three different viewpoints-Mercy, Doc, and the invited stranger John Quincy. There is sometimes overlap and repetition from each of them on a particular segment. That was a little difficult to follow on occasion. The further the storyline progressed, the more unrealistic it seemed to me---the reason I say it's a fantasy. But parts of it did intrigue me to continue reading. The parts of Mercy's life back in Bittersweet were interesting and Doc's past was heart-warming. However, it just wasn't enough for me to give it a high rating. Unfortunately, I have to give this book a 3-star and that's only because of those small interesting portions and the phenomenal cover art. I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging for Books program in return for my review. My opinions are honest and unbiased.

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  • Posted March 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Book Was Unexpected

    The cover is the first thing that I notice in a book. It's what compels me to investigate the back flap. Some Amish romances temporarily got my interest, but I wasn't really in the mood for another Amish romance. I wanted something deeper and more turn-your-brain-inside-out kind of stories like I had read in Mike Duran and James Patterson's books. This cover had a magnolia flower surrounded by light and lots of pink. It told me nothing about the book. That aside, the book blew me away.

    A sudden flash of light occurred, and then nothing but the darkness. And that dark was complete. We were not actually sitting in the dark at all, but by comparison all other light was like unto darkness. Mercy moved to place the book back in the box and into the cabinet with me wanting to shout, No, stop. I must see more! But I could not speak. Yet she turned back as if she'd heard me, leaving the book as it was. (Pg. 216, John Quincy's POV)

    Mercy Land grew up in Bittersweet Creek. She moved to the city in the 1930s before Hitler grew in power across the Atlantic. She lives on the Gulf and is the newspaper's go-to girl, or Doc's girl. Doc is an old man who emotionally relies on Mercy as a friend. He lost his wife a few years prior. The book as told mainly by Mercy Land in first person flows with an abundance of love for her Bittersweet Creek folks and family. She loves the city and the smell of the newspaper. She doesn't struggle with singledom and happens to be quite content in this state much to her friends and family's disappointment.

    This is not a romance book, but romance does bud about halfway through the story. It's not your typical story. In fact, it's not your typical romance either. Usually, romances are easy to predict. This book doesn't give you that luxury. It's unpredictable. Doc magically receives a book. It's a book of light where names float to the top and if you dip your hand in you see the choices that were and were not made in a person's life.

    "Look," he said again, "it's a book." He said this like he was trying to reassure me of something, but it didn't work. I caught my breath and blinked back tears. It was a book, all right. Or at least a type and shadow of maybe a book. It was a book if you wanted to call it a book. And I guess to call it anything else, well, where would you begin? It did appear somewhat like a book in the shape of things, but when I looked at it, I knew better. On the cover, the letters-if you could even call them that-moved. That is, the words themselves were formed from gold, and that gold moved like liquid fire. (Pg. 9, Mercy Land's POV)

    The Miracle of Mercy Land becomes the story of a battle against a dark force over a person's soul. It becomes a longing for home. It becomes a story about how a person's choices can affect a stranger. It talks about brokenness. The language of the writer beautifully describes her love of family. I couldn't understand why the publisher would choose such a mundane cover for such a powerful story. It's the only reason why I gave this book four and a half stars. Otherwise, it has earned a place on my permanent bookshelf.

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  • Posted March 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan

    I was intrigued from the very first sentence, "I was born in a bolt of lightning on the banks of Bittersweet Creek. Mama said it was a prophecy, and as she is given to having visions of the biblical kind, no one argues with her."
    The book is the first one I have read from this author and I was not disappointed. This is not your "cookie cutter" type of story. Jordan has created a spiritual thriller with characters that come off the page with life choices made and discovering that the right choice is not always easy to determine.
    In the Miracle of Mercy Land, River Jordan explores good and evil, curiosity and truth, darkness and light told through a tale of southern charm and supernatural fantasy. Jordan takes the reader on a journey to the banks of Bittersweet Creek, where the past is revisited and broken hearts are mended.
    A great story of a girl who discovers her destiny by tremendous acts of courage by standing firm in the values she was taught early in life.
    There is a list of questions at the back of the book to facilitate discussions.
    I highly recommend this book and I plan on reading more from this author.
    I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging for Books program in return for my review.

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  • Posted March 10, 2011

    The Miracle of Mercy Land

    I received this book WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review

    I have been so busy lately that I had actually forgotten I had this book for review. I sat down excited and ready for a great adventure. It ended up being a decent read, although I feel like I missed something somewhere so I know I will be picking it up to read it again. The characters were very interesting but certain characters are so mysterious that I am not even sure what the role was in the book. There were many questions left unanswered and I just felt there were certain parts that were not explained well enough.

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  • Posted February 2, 2011

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    "The Miracle of Mercy Land"

    As she works for Doc Phillips at the local paper, Mercy Land does what is necessary to become indispensable. Then, early one morning, Mercy gets information about a huge story, the biggest she has ever worked on, but she can't print any of it. Mysterious things start happening like: Mercy meeting a man named John Quincy in her dreams (will he help or hinder her), a book floats in the window onto Doc's desk, words are constantly moving on the pages, and Mercy and Doc can see lives when their hands enter the book. What is this book of maps and how can it change lives? Why are Doc and Mercy involved? Will Mercy's past come back to haunt or help her? What is the miracle from the title?This book can definitely make the reader think about the choices he/she makes.

    This book was a different genre for me. Normally I don't pick up books with a mystical theme, but this one was different. The characters and story line kept me interested and I wanted to know how the story would be resolved. I recommend it to anyone who wants an adventure in reading.

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  • Posted November 1, 2010

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    Not what I expected...

    This book is written more like a movie with a narrator. It made it a bit long for me. I really need a book that doesn't seem to repeat itself over and over.

    I felt like it was a little crazy and had a really hard time to stay focused.

    The "mysterious" book that just appeared in Doc's office really didn't fit the rest of the book - it made it Sci-Fi for no reason. I just veer from anything Sci-Fi.

    Although the book was an easy read - I could not recommend it due to lack of substance.

    However, the cover art was beautiful!

    Blessings to you! You are loved!

    Note: I was sent complimentary copy for review purposes only. This review has not been monetarily compensated. The review was my honest opinion and views and not influenced by the sponsor in any way.

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  • Posted October 29, 2010

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    The Past Really Isn't

    The only thing certain was that the future would have to reveal itself in due time, and most likely it would be different from anything we had expected" [The Miracle of Mercy Land].

    I recently read the book, The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan. This is not a book I would have typically chosen for myself, but I had agreed to read and review the book for the publisher, Waterbook Press.

    After finishing the story (in which I found the pace to be a bit slow and the characters underdeveloped), I realized the amazing message the author shares goes far beyond the story she's written on the page.

    Set in the late 1930's the book centers around a young woman in a small coastal town in Alabama. The daughter of a poor backwoods itinerant preacher, Mercy Land has moved to the "big town" of Bay City to discover life, and winds up working at the local newspaper, Banner.

    For seven years, under the watchful eye of the newspaper editor, Doc, and his wife, Mercy comes into her own. Things get interesting when a mysterious book arrives which reveals the pasts, the choices, and the consequences people living in Bay City have experienced.

    The information the mysterious book provides is not always comfortable for Doc and Mercy to read. Secrets are revealed. Choices laid bare. Decisions exposed.

    Honestly, in some ways this book is not unlike the onslaught of today's political attacks we see during election season. Flippant comments made or senseless actions taken years ago come back to haunt candidates in full color on television.

    The question the author presents is one we have all struggled with at one time or another. Is it possible to effect the past in some way in order to create a better present or future? We've all done things then that if we had the benefit of our experience now would have been handled much differently.

    This is especially painful when we realize our failings have negatively affected another. What then?

    How long must we carry around regret for past mistakes?
    Can we ever be absolved?
    Can we ever make it right?

    These are some of the same issues the characters in The Miracle of Mercy Land confront. There are no easy answers.

    Many times, we do the best we can with what we have at the time. We cannot be faulted for that. Time does not stand still. Memories fade. Expectations change. We grow into ourselves and see things differently.

    Regardless of who we are, everyone carries their past right along with them. It is our past which has helped shaped us into who we have become. Along the way, as Doc and Mercy realize, it is our choice to either sharpen the points or smooth off the rough edges.

    Perhaps Maria Robinson is right. "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." Good advice for today, and for the characters in The Miracle of Mercy Land.

    Whatever you are, as Doc and Mercy discovered, the choice is yours!

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  • Posted October 27, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    The Miracle of Mercy Land

    This book is definitely a change of pace for Christian Fiction. River Jordan incorporates a bit of magic in The Miracle of Mercy Land, which is something most writers of Christian Fiction would shy away from. The author however uses 'magic' to teach a great lesson about the choices we make in life and how the effect everyone around us. Mercy Land was born in a bolt of lightening to a circuit riding preacher on the banks of Bittersweet Creek, a small Alabama town in the 1930's. As she becomes a young woman, Mercy gravitates to the lights of bigger town, Bay City on the gulf. She becomes a reporter for the local paper, The Banner and under the tutelage of Doc Phillips, publisher and editor. When Doc receives a mysterious book of maps, he decides to let Mercy in on his secret. This isn't any old atlas. It has the map of every person in Bay City's lives. When a person makes a decision it appears on their personal map. It shows not only the choices they've made in their past but how it effects their future. Will Doc be able to change the past and make up for a mistake he made long ago? Will Mercy's past catch up with her as she attempts to solve the mystery of the book? This book is based on a principle that I've heard in the past called the butterfly effect, which basically says that if even the smallest changes were made in the past it could effect the future in catastrophic ways. I loved how River Jordan was able make this principle come to life in this book. If each of us had the opportunity to go back and change the past would we do it, if we knew it could possibly change everything? Maybe I haven't had the most spectacular life, with lots of twists and turns, but honestly I think I would be afraid to change the past. I'm not sure what it would mean for my future. Everyone makes choices, every single day and this book really brought home the point that we have to choose with the greatest of care, with the knowledge that every single choice effects not only us, but everyone around us. I loved the book. I thought the subject was new and different for Christian Fiction. I thought the characters were easy to identify with. I think that Doc's need to change the past because of something he did was understandable. Mercy's desire to bring the purpose of the book to fruition was compelling even in the face of her own past. The story was engaging and full of surprises. It did get a bit bogged down with allegory toward the end for a bit, but all in all this was an excellent book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes Christian Fiction but wants to find a new twist or to new readers to the genre, that want something different and exciting. I look forward to River's next book and can't wait to read her others.

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  • Posted October 26, 2010

    Mercy Land

    When I received my copy of The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan I was not sure quite what to expect. Fiction is not my preferred genre of books. When you tie a new story to a particular time period, such as pre-WWII, and the book tends to get knocked down a rung on my reading priority list. I'll be honest - the reason I read the book was because this book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. As a young woman, Mercy Land moves from the backwoods of Bittersweet Creek where she grew up to Bay City, a nearby small town. Here she lands a job as being #2 in charge at the town newspaper. For Mercy, moving to a town of any size, be it a population of 500 or 50,000, would be a major change, having grown up along Bittersweet Creek. Suddenly Doc Phillips, the owner/editor in chief of The Banner, one night finds himself keeper of a book. Not an ordinary book, mind you. It's a book that can tell you what might have happened in a person's life, had he or she made different decisions. Why him? Why this book? And what is he supposed to do about the information he sees in it? He shares the book with Mercy, and the two of them decide to keep the book a secret from anyone else. But not before Doc orchestrates the arrival of a strangely familiar man - a man whose life could be made right by what was revealed in this mysterious book. What I liked: The story was clearly written, and unmuddled by too many characters. Although the time period was the early 1940's, you'd never know it, except for a few references to pre-WWII headlines. What I didn't like: Even though the book was easy to read, the characters easy to distinguish, and the story on the whole easy to follow, I never quite grasped the purpose of the supernatural book. Somehow I think the same story could have been written substituting an abandoned briefcase of hundred dollar bills and appealed to the same audience. Would I recommend this book to a friend? Frankly, I wouldn't rate The Miracle of Mercy Land as a "must read." This is a book that I would give to a fiction-reading friend on the condition that, after she reads it, she pass it along to someone else to enjoy.

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  • Posted October 23, 2010

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    If you could change your past, would you?

    I was born in a bolt of lightning on the banks of Bittersweet Creek. Mama said it was a prophecy, and as she is given to having visions of the biblical kind, no one argues with her. She can match what she sees with ancient words, and truth be told, she is frightening with the speaking of them. Mama can swipe you with her eye so that you feel like you have either been hushed or resurrected by God's own hand.

    On the fateful day of my birth, there had been no signs, natural or otherwise, that foretold what the day would bring. No wild birds roosting in the trees, no funny-yolked eggs, no hints to suggest that a baby was about to show up in a stormy kind of way. - (Excerpt pg 1).

    In the latest book, The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan, you find the stage set for a most unusual story. A story you've never encountered before but one that will change you whole life and every decision you ever make from here on out.

    In a twist from the Twilight Zone episode, Mercy Land finds herself thrust into the biggest story her local paper could ever hope to print, yet she can't print it. Along with Doc Phillips, the owner of the Banner, they are presented with a most unusual secret that they must both keep while unlocking its mystery. A book has appeared on Doc's desk and within it's pages are the lives of the people of Bay City, both past and present as those reading those pages gives them an depth look at their lives and the choices they have made.

    Is it possible to go back and fix something in your past regardless of the consequences it may bring to the future? Will they be willing to take a risk and find out the true purpose of the mysterious book?

    You'll have to read, The Miracle of Mercy Land and find out. I received this book compliments of WaterBrook Multnomah for my honest review and have to say it held me attention and captured me into the story on each page. I couldn't wait to see what this book was and if they would choose to use it to change their lives. I would rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars and can't wait to read River Jordan's next book!

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  • Posted August 11, 2010

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    an interesting whimsical historical.

    During the Great Depression, daughter of a circuit preacher, Mercy Land leaves her safe and comfortable home in Bittersweet, Alabama although with the hard times that is not an easy thing to do for a man let alone a single young woman. Still she moves to Bay City, Alabama on the Gulf. There she becomes a reporter for the local newspaper working for Doc Philip.

    Mercy and Doc find a strange atlas, but not of places. Instead it is filled with the maps of the lives of the residents of Bay City. Each time a person made a pivotal choice it is reflected in their personal map. Doc is euphoric as he believes he can rectify a terrible error while Mercy wants to fulfill the tome's prophecy until a train arrives with her past on board.

    This is a fascinating tale with an intriguing premise of having the ability to change your past. Readers will relish the diverse opinions between Doc looking back with an obsession to correct a pivotal error and Mercy looking ahead with an equally fixated desire to meet the book's expectation. Fans will muse about what they would change and how will that impact their future as River Jordan provides an interesting whimsical historical.

    Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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