In Mercy Among the Children author David Adams Richards creates a small contingent of fully realized fictional characters. After endangering a friend, young Sidney vows a life of pacifism if his friend survives. Sidney keeps his vow even though his small-town neighbors take advantage of his gentleness. Much of the meanness in this rural enclave is caused by the fact of poverty. The sad shadow of poverty is cast here with sensitivity. Sidney’s son Lyle tries to defend his father, acting out when Sidney is blamed for a young boy’s death. The novel is told through Lyle’s soulful eyes. Bernard Clark’s poignant narration will make listeners return many times to this solemn novel.
Sydney Henderson is a truly great man. As a young man, Sydney, believing he has accidentally killed a friend, makes a pact with God, promising never to harm another if the boy's life is spared. In the years that follow, the almost pathologically gentle Sydney holds true to his promise - at terrible cost to himself and his family. Stunningly beautiful and haunting, scenes from this magisterial novel will remain etched in the mind forever.
©2000, 2011 David Adams Richards (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I'm a great fan of DA Richards and wish Audible would publish more of his novels. This one won the Giller, Canada's most glamorous fiction prize and I can't argue. Richards writes out of small-town New Brunswick with a workingclass slant and this book is about a kid growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in a town dominated by a small-time industrialist who owns everything including the general store. The town is unrelievedly bleak and mean and thugs persecute the hero's family relentlessly. The father is wimpishly nonviolent and forgiving, turning the son into an ineffective, troubled avenger. As in other Richards fiction you feel he is tilting the scales against his characters in an almost Hardy-ish way, but he also has a Hardy-esque vividness and grounding in the physical world.
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