Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton
Published by Harper Paperbacks, an imprint of Harper Collins
When Martin’s brother Leon disappears without a trace, Martin is forced to leave his, admittedly not very happy or successful, life in New York to return to his family’s home in North Carolina. Having the family – obviously excepting Leon – back together again forces the Owenby family members to confront both their past and present secrets.
It is difficult to do justice to “Under the Mercy Trees” in a synopsis, as it is very much a discovery of who the characters are in the present, and what past events have shaped them. Newton draws her characters in a way that makes them immediately compelling. Martin, who is sure that he cannot live as a gay man in a mountain town of North Carolina, Ivy, who sees the ghosts that surround any family and any place, the rest of their friends and family, all of them are fascinating, even when they are being petty or unlikable.
Although I wouldn’t classify this as a mystery, precisely, I was engrossed the entire time reading this by the question of what happened to Leon, as well as the lesser mysteries of what exactly happened in the lives of the families all those years ago.
A fabulous read and a haunting debut, I think that “Under the Mercy Trees” has a fairly wide appeal, and it is a book I definitely recommend.
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