Cover Image: Mercy Street

Mercy Street

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Member Reviews

Thank You to NetGalley for this advance reader copy in exchange for a review.
The publisher describes the plot perfectly so I will not attempt to rewrite. I had been waiting for this book since I sat in a upcoming book webinar, and was so excited to finally see it on NetGalley.
This is one of the most divisive issues in history. Regardless of which side you sit on, the answers are as complicated and varied as the next, but this book does an excellent job at sharing several of the stories.
Character driven, we meet various characters and see their points of view. We are a complication of our experiences and our decisions are made on the information we have at the time.  As the book unfolds, the characters experiences come to life and we become connected to the stories more as the chapters pass.
No matter which side you are on, you’ll be riveted if you keep going. I nodded, rolled my eyes, got angry, and made peace again with each of the characters. This book solves nothing but enlightens the reader just a touch. Extremely enjoyable.
Book clubs will have a lot to talk about. 4+ stars!
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Mercy Street wasn't the novel I expected. Claudia, a forty-three-year-old counselor at a women's clinic in Boston, is a perfect character. Claudia is a trained social worker, and that is where female advocate character types end. She is divorced, without children, and often forgets to eat. Claudia has no social life except for e-boyfriends that come and go about every six to eight months.

Timmy, a second character in the story, is Claudia's weed dealer. Timmy is a decent guy even though he has never really worked at a regular job and only leaves the house to get his supply. Timmy dreams of a better life and thinks that someday owning a laundromat would help him get out of the house, a place where he can stay 24/7 and still not have to deal with the real world.

Another in this puzzle of characters is Victor, who lives in survivalist mode with food, weapons, and ammo; he has enough to fight the war when it comes to his door. Victor's take on the role of women is entirely misogynistic. Women are breeders; their sole purpose is to deliver babies, possibly once a year, to keep society as racially white as Victor wants it. Victor wants white women to procreate more than they currently are, according to statistics. If you're going to hate a character, Victor is a good candidate. But he is also pathetic, and I almost felt sorry for him.

Anthony, a friend of Timmy, lives in his mother's basement. He doesn't have to work due to an injury on a construction site many years ago, and his disability checks keep in going. He spends his time attending mass and protesting outside of Claudia's clinic. Anthony spends time on a website Victor created for pro-life advocates. Victor has taken it up a notch by adding pictures to his website, claiming that the women seen are entering women's clinics for abortions. 

Jennifer Haigh's characters represent a section of our divided society where those without family support or money fall through the cracks. Some struggle and survive, and others have become violent actors on the bloody stage of American politics and culture. This novel fascinated me and gave me some hope.

Thank you to NetGalley, Ecco, and Jennifer Haigh for this ARC.
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This book was so good and hard and important and well written. My first of this author and I will definitely be reading more from her!
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I've read a few of Ms. Haigh's books and loved 2/3 of them.  This one was a bit of a disappointment.  It was mostly well written and started off quite strong but lost me about half way through.  I felt that the male characters were quite one dimensional, well, Tim the drug dealer was a little fleshed out but the white supremacist under the guise of pro-lifer felt completely stereotypical and not even believable.  

I think the book would have been a smash hit had it stayed with Claudia as the main character all the way through.
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Jennifer Haigh is the author of a number of novels all dealing with the question of how to live in this world beset with situations beyond the characters' control, about making the best of a problematic situation. In Mercy Street, there are intertwined issues of abortion, poverty, drug use, bad parenting that set the scene for an ultimately satisfying outcome. Highly recommended for readers of this novel and fans of Joyce Carol Oates, whose American Martyrs covered some of the same ground.
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A great, topical book with characters that you won’t forget.  The abortion clinic theme is multi faceted with a thought provoking focus on how, as a society, we sometimes care more about the unborn than the mother.  This isn’t a political book, but the extreme characters should make everyone think.  A book for everyone and one that everyone should read. 
Thank you Netgalley for a ARC.
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It's a notion that seems to be out of fashion in our current cancel culture and one that I think Jennifer Haigh is pushing us to reconsider. Who in our society needs compassion for them and their circumstance? This book covers many political hot topics- abortion, poverty, drugs, privacy, just to name a few- and asks you to spend considerable time in the minds and lives of people who are likely different from you. At times it is not an easy read.

This would make an excellent book club selection, but be prepared for a very long discussion as there is so much to unpack.
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I really like Haigh's writing and was thrilled to be able to read this on my Kindle as an advance reading copy from NetGalley. Thank you, NG!

I had not read any summaries or reviews prior to picking this up so I went in totally blind, which added a layer of suspense to what I felt was already a mildly suspenseful book. If not suspenseful, then definitely a book where I so wanted to know what would happen next and really had a hard time putting it down.

Mercy Street is a women's health clinic in Boston and Claudia has worked there a long time. She is very familiar with the die hard abortion protestors. She is the main character, but the story is also told from the p.o.v. of a few other people who are connected to Claudia. I love when authors show you how characters are connected in ways that maybe even the characters don't know. In this case there's Claudia's pot dealer, who seems very cool and amiable, even if his living conditions and career aren't great choices. And there's also a protestor as well as a total wackadoo guy who seems ready to unleash violence everywhere. I believe this character has a tie in to Baker Towers, which I loved. Will these characters all meet up? Will they see the connections? Will the violence unfold? Those were the questions that made me want to keep reading quickly, but, as in her other books, Haigh's writing made me want to read slowly, savoring the descriptions and insights. 
I would like everyone in Texas to read this book. In fact, I would like everyone to read this book, especially those who believe it's ok to try to make decisions about other women's healthcare. This was marvelously and honestly written.
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I got half way through this book and had to stop. It was really slow and sad. I didn't feel connected to anyone or anything in this novel.
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Ahhh I didn't want this one to end.  Loved the characters and their journeys.  Loved how everything intersected.  Just wanted to keep reading about these people!
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Lovely writing and a powerful read. I enjoyed following the interesting characters throughout their lives and thoroughly enjoyed this entire book.
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This was a really moving and fascinating novel. Claudia works at women's clinic and her story intersects with other characters (Tim, Victor, and Anthony) in this book. I appreciate the frank discussion surrounding abortion. A lot of novels I've read in the past brush over such a controversial and sensitive topic, not this one. A very eye-opening account on all levels. I've loved reading about Claudia's backstory. There was something so intimate and raw about "Mercy Street". The writing took my breath away. I've never read Jennifer Haigh's previous novels, but I definitely will now. Her prose is stunning. Some parts of this story might upset you, some might make you cry, but in the end, this story will leaving a lasting impression either way. I even enjoyed hearing Victor's narrative, even though he's a distasteful character. All points-of-view from the 4 characters really helped fleshed out the novel. Highly recommended! 

Thank you, Netgalley and Ecco for the digital ARC.
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Mercy Street is the name of an abortion clinic in Boston (well, the nickname based on the address) and this novel dives deep into the life of Claudia, a worker at the clinic and the stress and pressure she faces on the job, the counter abortion nasty tactics and the struggles of the women seeking abortions.  I happened to pick this up after listening to a recent NYT Daily episode "They don't understand that we are real people" (October 1, 2021) which emphasizes the real struggles and humanity of the patients of the clinic.  These depictions are the crowning glory of this novel, and makes this a book I will be recommending widely.  Other plot points do at times clutter the narrative, while attempting to be a unifying focus (many of the characters buy their weed from Tim, who has his own story line here).
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Excellent story! Totally engrossing!.  Looking forward to reading more by this author! Could not put this down!
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I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review 

I loved this one. Very fast paced, had me turning pages as I tore through it – I had to see how it would end.  The characters were well rounded and the narrative felt believable. I love this author and this is one of her best.. Solid five
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Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh is a book set in Boston centered around a women's health clinic that provides comprehensive women's care including abortion.  Claudia is a social worker who has worked there for a long time.  She grew up in Maine, living in a trailer with her single mother and and helping her care for all of the "fosters" that her mother took in for the money.   Her mother has recently died and she must deal with the trailer left to her where one of the adult foster children still lives.  Her friend, Tim, makes his living selling weed and working on a beloved car.  Tim has a teenage son from a failed marriage that he supports financially..  Another of Tim's customers is Anthony, who spends his time at Catholic mass and hanging around the abortion clinic protesting and photographing the clients and supplying the photos to Victor.  Victor, a disabled man, lives in his mother's basement and posts photographs of women seeking abortions to a Wall of Shame.  The characters are intertwined but live separate, dark, lonely lives.  They felt somewhat stereotypical and not memorable and the book didn't provide much hope.  I found the book propulsive enough to keep reading but it won't stay with me. 

Thank you, NetGalley!  I really appreciate it.
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Choosing to read Jennifer Haigh’s “Mercy Street” on the heels of stupid Texas doing stupid things was an accident, and not one that can be repeated by you all, since it doesn’t come out until February of next year.

But I really wish you could. We need to stay fired up, ladies.

“Mercy Street” is the tale of a Boston women’s health clinic and one of its lead counselors, Claudia. In her early 40s and grieving the loss of a less than stellar mother, she’s pretty much functioning on the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other plan until something or someone snaps her out of her funk.

Claudia spends her days counseling women from all walks—young and scared, young and nonchalant, women with children, women who waited too long to seek help—mustering up the energy to deal with everyone’s emotional pain but her own. And facing the crowd of anti-choice advocates on her clinic’s doorsteps every day.

One face in the crowd? Anthony, a younger guy with a penchant for online friendships that led him to stake out the clinic and take photos for Excelsior11 (aka Victor Prine), another anti-choice zealot that runs a Hall of Shame website from his doomsday compound in Pennsylvania.

Anthony and Claudia also share a friend in Timmy, the local weed dealer with a, well, not a heart of gold, but at least his heart’s kind of in the right place. He’s trying to figure out how to fund a legal business venture so his teenage son can move north from Florida and live with him. Long live the laundromat!

Haigh takes great care in interweaving these four characters’ lives in and around each other, so that the pace of the novel is not too fast, not too slow, but honest to goodness just right. You don’t want to put it down, but the breaks are there to be able to do just that and pick up where you left off an hour or a day later.

And while the pros and cons of abortion (Victor is a whack job, so get ready!) are there and ripe for book club discussion, for me, the heart of the story is Claudia’s inability to make a relationship stick and how that’s tied to her own upbringing and possibly the foster children her mom took into their homes and essentially left Claudia to raise. You spend your formative years making your best Cheesy Ramen for someone that ultimately leaves you high and dry, and it’s easy to see why Claudia might be averse to deeply formed connections.

Props to Haigh for making me care about Boston winters, classic cars and all-night weed binges. “Mercy Street” is a beautifully written novel and should be on your TBR list next year.
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Mercy Street is a unique and feeling novel about what it is to be trapped by life's circumstances. Its charachters inhabit  a world in which there seem to be no real options. As i read, I felt these people were beyond being just charachters; I inhabited their world and felt their "stuckness". Even the weather became a charachter as one nor'easter follows another and the residents of Boston literally  frozen in place.

  The main charachter, Claudia, is a social worker at at Mercy Street, a women's clinic in Boston. Her childhood was spent in poverty, brought up by a barely interested single mother Deb who made ends meet by taking in "fosters". Her only real interest, after getting through the back-breaking day of a nurse's aide, is to sit and smoke and watch television.  Claudia seemingly escapes this world by going to college, marrying well and working for a women's magazine. After a few years she leaves all of this behind, not feeling like she belonged in that world but finding little comfort or enjoyment in her new one working as a social worker at Mercy Street. She numbs herself with weed and Dateline re-runs, her relationship with her dealer is the deepest one she has.

Tim, her dealer, cannot figure out how to stop being a dealer, a job he has done nearly all of his adult life. He has an ex and a son he must support from a distance, both physical and emotional  He literally exists in a cloud of smoke and his only real passion seems to be his restored Barracuda. Beside Claudia, he deals to Anthony who passes the time going to Mass, protesting at Mercy Street and passing on photos of women going there to Victor whom he knows only through an anti-abortion website which features a "Wall of Shame" filled with pictures of women going into various clinics and whom, not incidentally, Victor finds attractive.  Victor is a retired truck driver who is mired in the aftermath of a brief marriage to a woman who took advantage of him and left. His mind rarely drifts from the what if's of this marriage and the hurt he suffered. He has not been able to go on from the fact that his wife aborted the baby he had fathered. 

By the end of the book, all of the charachters, their lives intertwined in ways they do not appreciate,  will be "unstuck".  I very much enjoyed this book and appreciate being afforded a review copy from Netgalley in turn for an honest review
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I have been familiar with Jennifer Haigh as an accomplished writer. I decided to give her writing a try to see if I liked it. I feel really bad writing poor reviews and from observing other reviews I seem to be in the minority here for not enjoying this novel. Poverty seems to be the theme and I found the storytelling to be disjointed. This just wasn't for me.

Claudia comes from a home in Clayburn, Maine were her mother subsisted on taking in foster children. Claudia escapes her poverty stricken background to work in Boston at an abortion clinic. This sounded like a very good premise but I think that Jodi Picoult covered this and wrote a more compelling and immersive setting and the experience of working in such an environment.

Claudia has a friend named Tim who is a marijuana dealer. I found this to be depressing and the flow of the storytelling to be choppy.

It skips around too much about depraved character's and I just didn't like the writing style at all. This is rare for me. I wanted to love this but I found I couldn't relate to all the narrative about selling drugs. Maybe this will appeal to others but honestly it just fell flat and too much skipping around about the underbelly of society. It's not that I have anything against the under privileged of society because I just read a fantastic book about racism and loved it and found it heartbreaking. This was not for me as I found too much jumping around and didn't feel pulled into the storytelling. I didn't enjoy Tim and his ramblings about his drug dealing and the abortion clinic would have been more interesting if the character development wasn't so flat. It just skipped around too much and felt one dimensional.

I thought that I would like this because parts of it takes place in Boston where I am familiar with the setting. I remember the Combat zone and the prostitution and how now it has disappeared and is not visible anymore. Other parts of Boston are mentioned which I know of and thought this would appeal to me but it just didn't which I am very surprised. Jennifer Haigh is a well respected author but the style of writing was not for me. I do wish the author well and much success.

Publication Date: 2-1-2022

Thank you to Net Galley, Jennifer Haigh and Ecco for providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

#MercyStreet #JenniferHaigh #Ecco #NetGalley
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I picked up a copy of "Mercy Street" with the assumption that it would provide a deep and meaningful look into abortion care and those it impacts. Instead, I found that I was spending page after page living in the mind of racist, incel type extremist pro-lifers. Claudia is employed at a reproductive health care clinic called Mercy Street, and is unknowingly surrounded by a carousel of men, several of whom I struggled to differentiate. We spend A LOT of time inside their sexist stream of consciousness. They lack complexity and read more as tropes: the lonely Traditionalist Catholic, the racist boomer with a savior complex, the weed dealer. I really struggled with them taking front and center of this story, especially as we're seeing that the Pro Life movement is more and more driven by legislative efforts. The stereotype of the old guy holding a sign at an abortion clinic feels one dimensional now. It's unfortunate that upon finishing the book, I will remember it mostly as a story about men who hate women, and not about the very real emotions and challenges that women face in their lives.
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