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Review: Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh

Title: Mercy Street
Author: Jennifer Haigh
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 448 pages
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)US (ME, 

SummaryFor almost a decade, Claudia has counseled patients at Mercy Street, a clinic in the heart of the city. The work is consuming, the unending dramas of women in crisis. For its patients, Mercy Street offers more than health care; for many, it is a second chance.

But outside the clinic, the reality is different. Anonymous threats are frequent. A small, determined group of anti-abortion demonstrators appears each morning at its door. As the protests intensify, fear creeps into Claudia's days, a humming anxiety she manages with frequent visits to Timmy, an affable pot dealer in the midst of his own existential crisis. At Timmy's, she encounters a random assortment of customers, including Anthony, a lost soul who spends most of his life online, chatting with the mysterious Excelsior11--the screen name of Victor Prine, an anti-abortion crusader who has set his sights on Mercy Street and is ready to risk it all for his beliefs.

Review: I was really looking forward to this book, but found it a little disappointing. The topic is so current and in the news that I thought it would really resonate with me, but in the end I didn't care enough about the cast of characters.

In theory I like Claudia. She is smart, does a job that is interesting (I worked at Planned Parenthood as a pregnancy counselor for a year or so), and cares about her patients, going above and beyond to help them get access to health care no matter what decision they are making. All that is real and I could relate to it.

However, there was something about the writing that meant I couldn't quite connect. I felt like Claudia had given up on herself, that she and Timmy don't really make sense as two people who would connect. And I certainly didn't connect with the anti-abortion protestors though I think I could have if they had been written differently. 

I am not sure exactly what didn't work for me in this one because it has good elements, but for some reason it didn't click for me.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Literary Escapes--Maine

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