Mercy Snow

Tiffany Baker's third novel, Mercy Snow, juxtaposes the good and evil, the haves and the have-nots of a struggling mill town, and explores the simmering mysteries linking them all. The people of Titan Falls, N.H., hate the polluted muck of the Androscoggin River, and they hate the Snow clan. They have to put up with the river--it's vital to the operation of the paper mill that drives the local economy--but nobody has any use for Mercy Snow and her kin.

The novel opens with a school bus tragedy the town is eager to believe was caused by Mercy's ex-convict brother, Zeke. With Zeke on the lam, teenage Mercy and her younger sister are alone in the beat-up RV they call home. Meanwhile, prim and proper June McAllister, the wife of the powerful mill owner, incites the town against the three orphan Snows, hoping to deflect any questions about where her husband was that night. Reclusive Hazel Bell defies the town and hires Mercy to help tend her sheep. It's through Hazel's friendship that Mercy finds an avenue stealthily to investigate the accident and quietly make positive changes in Titan Falls.

Emotional complexities and small-town biases clash throughout the novel. As in her earlier works (The Little Giant of Aberdeen County etc.), Baker imbues her heroine with magical homeopathic skills. Mercy is a fiercely determined and wise protagonist who, as her sister says, "taught them that sorrow flowed in this life, but so did sweetness in equal measure." --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, bookseller, Book Passage, San Francisco

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