I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen
Published by Harper on March 10, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
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In this intricate novel of psychological suspense, a chilling discovery near the high school ignites a witch hunt in a southeast Texas refinery town, unearthing communal and family secrets that threaten the lives of the town's girls.\r\n\r\nIn Port Sabine, the air is thick with oil, superstition reigns, and dreams hang on making a winning play. All eyes are on Mercy Louis, the star of the championship girls' basketball team. Mercy seems destined for greatness, but the road out of town is riddled with obstacles. There is her grandmother Evelia, a strict evangelical who has visions of an imminent Rapture and sees herself as the keeper of Mercy's virtue. And then there are the cryptic letters from Charmaine, the mother who abandoned Mercy at birth.\r\n\r\nAt the periphery of Mercy's world floats team manager Illa Stark, a lonely wallflower. Like the rest of the town, Illa is spellbound by Mercy's beauty and talent, but a note discovered in a gym locker reveals that Mercy's life may not be as perfect as it appears.\r\n\r\nThe last day of school brings the disturbing find, and as summer unfolds and the police investigate, every girl becomes a suspect. At the opening game of the season, Mercy collapses--and Evelia prophesies that she is only the first to fall. Soon other girls are afflicted by the same mysterious condition, sending the town into a tailspin and bringing Illa and Mercy together in an unexpected way.\r\n\r\nEvocative and unsettling, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis charts the downfall of one town's golden girl while exploring the brutality and anxieties of girlhood in America.
This book made me uncomfortable. It made me sad and angry and hopeful all at the same time. I couldn’t put it down! Mercy made me feel so much – the pain and loneliness from her mother walking away, her longing for some affection from her grandmother, the giddiness of first love, the agony of defeat from losing the championship game, and the euphoria of rediscovering how much she loves to play. The story is told from the points of view of Mercy – the completely dedicated star basketball player, and Illa, the practically invisible team manager. At first glance, the two girls couldn’t be more different, but they have more in common than they even realize. I liked Mercy’s chapters the best, but I also felt for Illa, who had way more responsibility than she should have, caring for her disabled mother. This town – and Mercy’s grandmother – made me absolutely furious! This was slut-shaming at its worst, with every single high school girl falling under suspicion for the “crime” of being female. They threw ridiculous Purity Balls that everyone knew were a farce, and girls who were caught “giving away their gift” were publicly humiliated. This was a town where no responsibility was put on the boys for this, and girls often disappeared, ran away, or otherwise fell through the cracks. Having grown up in a poor state where the teen pregnancy rate was high and the importance placed on education was low, I could totally relate to the desire to escape after high school. The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen was not only the story of one girl’s downfall, it was also a story of redemption, of friendship and family, and finding one’s self. The only thing that disappointed me was the resolution (or lack thereof) of one of the storylines. I was satisfied with most of the ending, but there was one thing that was left unresolved that really bothered me. Otherwise, I couldn’t have asked for more – interesting characters, writing that evoked lots of emotion, and a fast-paced story that I couldn’t wait to finish.