Mercury

Mercury

by Amy Jo Burns

Narrated by Maria Liatis

Unabridged — 11 hours, 59 minutes

Mercury

Mercury

by Amy Jo Burns

Narrated by Maria Liatis

Unabridged — 11 hours, 59 minutes

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

From the author who blessed us with Shiner comes a story packed with the twists of a propulsive mysery and the meaningful character connections of a good literary tale. It's the story of dysfunctional family, finding oneself and the gray area between heroes and villains. Great for fans of The People We Keep.

A roofing family's bonds of loyalty are tested when they uncover a long-hidden secret at the heart of their blue-collar town-from Amy Jo Burns, author of the critically acclaimed novel Shiner

It's 1990 and seventeen-year-old Marley West is blazing into the river valley town of Mercury, Pennsylvania. A perpetual loner, she seeks a place at someone's table and a family of her own. The first thing she sees when she arrives in town is three men standing on a rooftop. Their silhouettes blot out the sun.

The Joseph brothers become Marley's whole world before she can blink. Soon, she is young wife to one, The One Who Got Away to another, and adopted mother to them all. As their own mother fades away and their roofing business crumbles under the weight of their unwieldy father's inflated ego, Marley steps in to shepherd these unruly men. Years later, an eerie discovery in the church attic causes old wounds to resurface and suddenly the family's survival hangs in the balance. With Marley as their light, the Joseph brothers must decide whether they can save the family they've always known-or whether together they can build something stronger in its place.

A Macmillan Audio production from Celadon Books.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

10/23/2023

An aimless young woman joins a family of roofers in 1990 Pennsylvania in Burns’s appealing if florid sophomore novel (after Shiner). In the summer before Marley’s last year of high school, she catches the eyes of the handsome Joseph brothers, who invite her to dinner. She becomes a regular guest at their rambling Victorian home, where Elise Joseph serves a home-cooked meal nightly to her erratic husband, Mick, and three sons, Baylor, Waylon, and Baby Shay. Eventually, Marley gets pregnant and marries Waylon. In a bid to save enough money to get their own place, she tries to help Waylon bring in more jobs for the family’s roofing company, only to discover their finances are in shambles. Burns hits a few wrong notes, such as injecting implausible lyricism into Waylon’s perspective (he imagines his father might “burn his whole life to the ground just by chasing his own imagination”). Still, she keeps up the tension with multiple plot twists involving secrets about the town and the Josephs, and she portrays Marley’s working-class struggles as a young mother with precision. Once again, Burns delivers a satisfying portrait of life on the margins. Agent: Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, Gernert Co. (Jan.)

From the Publisher

Mercury shimmers with authenticity. Amy Jo Burns is a big-time talent whose beautiful and honest prose elevates love, even when plumbing the darker realities of family. Equal parts gripping page-turner and wise character study. Tears streamed down my face as I turned the last page. An instant favorite.”

Matthew Quick, New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook and We

Are the Light

"Mercury is that rare and marvelous novel that offers us the combination of unforgettable characters, tender prose, page-turning narrative, and the escape of an immersive world. Burns has gifted us with a family saga replete with the subtle moments that make us human, that take our breath away, and that gut us with feeling. Among many, Burns asks the important question — how does one become oneself while also living in a family that consumes? When we meet the Joseph family, we, just as Marley, want to sit at the dinner table with the matriarch and four complicated men without yet understanding the consequences of joining them. With textured and lush prose, Burns exposes the private desires and secrets living below the roofline of their collective lives. When a leak appears in the town’s church bell tower, what has been hidden is exposed in a breath-holding unfolding. I am in love with Marley and the Joseph family, and I miss them already."

Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Book of Flora Lea

"It just doesn’t get any better than this when it comes to a story about what it means to be family, whether it’s the one you’re born into or the one you create. From the moment I started Amy Jo Burns’s new book I couldn’t put it down—even though I didn’t want it to end. You will fall in love with these beautifully drawn, unforgettable characters, who remind us of the strength of family bonds, and the importance of grace and forgiveness."

Tracey Lange, the New York Times bestselling author of We Are the Brennans

"Mercury is part family saga, part mystery, and 100% unputdownable. As the secrets piled up and discoveries were made, I read faster and faster, eager to unravel the web Amy Jo Burns so masterfully wove. Surprising and true, Mercury reminds us of the importance of love and forgiveness."

Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle and The Book That Matters Most

"Mercury pushes the family saga into a deep, rugged, beautiful territory that astonished me.

This novel refuses to villainize or deify any character, but complicates and confronts the contradictory truths that everyone born into or brought into a family is heartbroken, seen deeply, misunderstood, and loved by one another, all at once. Mercury is a story to be savored and studied on a line level, but also epic in its scope and ambition. I have never read a novel that so generously and intimately reveals each and every character’s deepest wants, most tender scars, and fiercest refusals to stay in the lanes our families steer us into.

Burns shows, in acutely observed moments, the brutality of work and what we have to show for it at the end of the days and years of ache and labor, the realness and depth of young love hanging on through grief, the seismic changes of growing up, and how the moments we are bravest and most vulnerable change our trajectories forever."

Katie Runde, author of The Shore

"In her new novel Mercury, Amy Jo Burns writes passionately about the hard realities of work and money, sex and love and what happens when you don’t notice that your mother has come home without her shoes. Long after I finished reading, I found myself thinking about her complicated characters and especially about the amazing Marley, a heroine for all seasons who can fix a roof, do the accounts, home school a brother in law, make a family. What a lovely, satisfying novel."

—Margot Livesey, author of The Road from Belhaven

"Mercury, by Amy Jo Burns, is a beautiful, heartfelt novel about the Joseph family of Mercury, Pennsylvania. Burns skillfully employs the omniscient point-of-view as we spend time with multiple characters, exploring what it means to be part of a family, and how the narrative of a family develops and changes over time. We get to know the Josephs intimately—roofer Mick and his wife Elise, and their three sons, Waylon, Baylor, and Shea. But the character who lights up this book is Marley, the woman who will fiercely love the Joseph family and provide a way forward for them all."

—Laura Spence-Ash, author of Beyond That, the Sea

"[Burns] keeps up the tension with multiple plot twists involving secrets about the town and the Josephs, and she portrays Marley’s working-class struggles as a young mother with precision. Once again, Burns delivers a satisfying portrait of life on the margins."

Publishers Weekly

"Well-drawn, engaging characters and a vivid setting make this is a compelling study of family dynamics."

—Kirkus

"With clear, luminous prose, able to plumb the complementary and contrasting depths of masculine and feminine energy, emotion, and ambition, Mercury is a delight."

—Booklist

"Amy Jo Burns straddles genres in the family drama, finessing them all."

The Minneapolis Star Tribune

PEOPLE Magazine's Book of the Week

“An exquisitely observed tale about blood bonds and the toll of secrets.”

“Burns’s second novel introduces the Josephs, a roofing family in Mercury, Pa., who — along with a young woman in search of her own place in the world — find themselves at an inflection point forged by long-ago choices.”

—The New York Times Book Review

FEBRUARY 2024 - AudioFile

Narrator Maria Liatis is superb at portraying both the characters in this novel and the rural environment they inhabit. It's 1990, not far from Interstate 80. Marly and her mother arrive in the Pennsylvania town and soon encounter two brothers, one of which Marly will marry at a young age. But she remains close to both. The discovery of a skeleton in the church attic threatens to upend these lives. Burns's audiobook requires a performance that balances its combination of family drama and police procedural. Liatis is skilled at capturing the spirit of these fascinating, flawed characters, providing listeners a sweeping experience that offers a deep understanding of humanity. S.P.C. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2024, Portland, Maine

Kirkus Reviews

2023-11-04
In the 1990s, a young woman yearns to become part of one big happy family, and thinks she might be.

When teenager Marley West arrives in the Pennsylvania town of Mercury in 1990, she falls in love almost immediately. Not with Baylor Joseph, the swaggering athlete who swoops her up, but with Baylor’s family—or at least what Marley thinks his family is. Baylor soon dumps her, and she falls into the arms of his younger brother, sweet, responsible Waylon. Soon Marley is pregnant and she and Waylon are married and living in a tiny apartment in the Josephs’ sprawling Victorian house. The only child of a hard-working single mother, she’s never experienced the clamor and warmth of a big family. She’s charmed by the three sons (the youngest is tender-hearted Shay Baby), and impressed by patriarch Mick Joseph, a damaged Vietnam vet who runs the roofing company that supports the family and employs most of them. But Marley is most enthralled by Elise Joseph, wife and mother, who rules the household with never a hair out of place. Marley doesn’t just want Elise to love her; she wants to be Elise. But Marley will discover deep fractures within the family and the extreme sacrifices Elise makes—not to mention a literal skeleton, not in the closet but in the attic of a local church. Marley forges her own identity, taking over the finances of the roofing company from the profligate Mick and raising her son, Theo, as her marriage wavers. Although by then it’s the mid-1990s and rights for women and gay people are gaining cultural force, they don’t seem to have any impact on small-town Pennsylvania, where Marley feels the same pressure of tradition Elise does, and another character suffers mightily. Though there's a large cast, Burns brings depth and insight to each member.

Well-drawn, engaging characters and a vivid setting make this is a compelling study of family dynamics.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940160039749
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication date: 01/02/2024
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 312,030
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