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Mercy's Mill

Mercy's Mill

by Betty Levin

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sarah is unhappy about moving to an old house by a mill in rural Massachusetts. She feels bored and lonely even though she is surrounded by her boisterous family, and becomes interested in her new home only when she meets a strange boy named Jethro who cryptically describes the house as ``the same and not the same.'' He speaks about the dwelling and the mill as if they were in another place, but even more peculiar, in another time. Sarah is quickly caught up in a chilling mystery which defies everything she knows about the physical world. This gripping tale interweaves the lives of four characters from three different eras--Mercy, from colonial days; Jethro, from the early 1800s; and contemporary Sarah and her foster sister Janey--and an eerie parallel emerges as their histories are gradually revealed. Levin masterfully explores the concept of time, in an illuminating blend of history and fantasy. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-- This suspenseful time-travel novel centers around an old stone mill and those who have lived near it in years past. Teenage Sarah and her family have recently moved there to rebuild the mill and grind flour, and she hates this spooky place where she feels watched all the time by unseen eyes. After a freak midwin ter lightning storm, she finds a strange boy by the pond. He tells her that he lived there in the 1850s as did his young friend Mercy, but in the late 1600s. Sarah slowly pieces their strange stories together, with the help of information she finds in the town's historical records, and learns about the atrocities they endured as slaves. She is intrigued by their escape through time, and, possessed by her own unhappiness, considers a similar solution for herself. As she becomes more involved with their lives, with the long history of the mill, and with problems in her own family, her own concerns fade. A sense of history, of place, and of other people's needs help her to reach out to her visitor from the past and to her own family. She gains the courage to put down roots, to begin her new life, and to experience compassion. The stories of the young people from the past are skillfully interwoven with Sarah's, and they reach a sat isfying conclusion. Attentive readers will be swept from one layer of discovery to the next in this intriguing, multilayered book. --Virginia Golodetz, St. Michael's College, Winooski, VT
Deborah Abbott
Moving from the city to an old house in the country requires many adjustments on the part of Sarah, Mom, stepfather Roger, baby sister Linda, and five-year-old foster sister Janey. Mom, who's an antiques expert, and Roger are rebuilding an old mill and plan to open a shop. Sarah, who gets along poorly with her family, finds companionship in Jethro, a strange boy who claims he is a former slave who has come to the present from the time of the Civil War. He is searching for Mercy, a child who had lived near the mill in the 1600s and whose mother was persecuted as a witch. Sarah gets caught up in the drama of Mercy's perilous life as she and Janey save an old crow, supposedly Mercy's pet. This strange novel--part time-warp fantasy, part historical fiction--is rooted in contemporary realistic fiction. Yet so many demands are made on the reader that only those with concentration and determination enough to read to the end will be satisfied. Although the story offers interesting ideas, too many subplots detract from the main focus. In addition, the time-warp vehicle lacks transitions smooth enough to make the story believable. Short excerpts outlining Mercy's struggle, written in italics, frequently interrupt the text. Levin, who has written many fine novels for this age, includes many fascinating items about the history of the mill, a stop on the Underground Railroad, and tantalizes the reader with details about witchcraft in early American history.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 9.31(h) x 0.97(d)
670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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