Cover Image: Mercy Street

Mercy Street

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Member Reviews

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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Wow!  What a great book. The story and writing are very reminiscent of Jodi Piccoult. This book doesn’t disappoint. It’s a very timely story, especially as I began reading it the day SB.8 took effect in Texas, basically banning abortions before most women even know they are pregnant. I really enjoyed the writing style, especially the parts told from Claudia’s point of view. I cringed reading about the extreme right wing perspectives of Vince and Anthony, knowing that people like them are all too common in today’s society. 

A great read, for sure!  Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and author for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.
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Another five star novel  by this author.Based in Boston in an abortion clinic we meet Claudia a character that drew me in to her world her life her being raised by her single mother.Each character is so well written comes alive.A book and author I will be recommending.#netgalley #eccobooks
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Mercy Street is an exquisite mosaic of a novel. The lives of very different characters intersect in Boston during the blizzard season of 2015. That weather, causing swirling snowstorms, icy roads and forced isolation, becomes a controlling character itself.

Mercy Street, the location of an abortion clinic, is at the center of the story.  Claudia, product of a teenage pregnancy, has worked as a counselor at the clinic for years. She fled rural Clayburn, Maine for the city. Timmy is her friend and marijuana supplier. Anthony, another friend of Timmy’s, is an incel who lives in his mother’s basement. On disability since a construction accident, he spends his days in front of the clinic protesting abortion. Anthony has fallen under the spell of Victor, a deeply disturbed truck driver who calls himself Excelsior11. Winter will change all their lives in very different ways.

The characters in Mercy Street have been beaten down by life. Claudia sees how poverty affects people. She grew up in a trailer where her mother took in foster children for money. One young woman still lives in the trailer with a daughter of her own, continuing generational poverty. At the clinic, Claudia sees how wealthier young women have family support, money and a future attending college. Poor women often can’t afford abortion and have the babies with little help. It’s a sad but true story. Mercy Street is thought-provoking, beautifully written and would make great discussion at a book club. 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Ecco and Jennifer Haigh for this ARC.
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A favorite author of mine and this book reinforces my opinion. Setting is Boston, during the year of snowstorm after snowstorm in all of southern New England . An in depth look at the lives of four main characters, with the fifth” character” being the Women’s Center on Mercy Street. The book is an example of the socio-economic and political forces that presently divide our country, and could not be more timely.Well written , well researched( as always with Haigh) at times a dark, gloomy, and Depressing look into the lives the characters lead, and will certainly provide material for multiple animated book club discussions.
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What a powerful novel for our polarized times!  We met Claire, a deeply thoughtful character, as she works at an abortion clinic in Boston.  From there, we learn of the poverty and hurt in her life growing up with a ai gle mother playing the system in Maine.  We meet all kinds of polarizing characters throughout the novel.  Another masterpiece by the author.
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In Mercy Street Jennifer Haigh excels at providing a slice of life picture of a women's clinic in Boston and the characters that intersect with Claudia, who works at the clinic. These are not fancy educated people, but rather people who have problems, are down on luck and life, but who are plodding along and have dreams of their own. People who want to survive and are looking perhaps in all the wrong places to do so. It's a timely book and would be a great book to read and discuss in many a book group. 

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book.
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Mercy Street is a women's health clinic in Boston, in a section of the city where the Combat Zone existed.  Combat still reigns on Mercy Street over the ABs (abortions), which occur at the facility.  Claudia is an empathetic counselor there, and Mary Fahey makes the center run. We meet diverse women at the center: bewildered teenagers, hardened drug addicts and prostitutes, and everything in between.  The author also introduces us to the protestors who stand outside Mercy Street and attempt to dissuade women from entering.  We become familiar with their fundamentalist views, simplistic beliefs, and they become more human.  Jennifer Haigh has again written a book with real characters, encountering divisive issues, and does it with literary style.
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Jennifer Haigh has written a masterful novel that is a social document for our time.  Mercy Street is about a woman’s health center that confronts issues of abortion, privacy rights, gun control, as well as the personal needs of clients and staff. 

I cannot think of a better novel for book groups and college seminars to read. The material lends itself to rich,, thoughtful discussion.

 The novel revolves around the life of Claudia, a pragmatic and depressed heroine. Haigh describes her backstory and inability to find satisfaction in her life. She has an unlikely relationship with her weed dealer.  She is such a sympathetic character that I feared for her emotional and physical safety as I read this novel. 
Haigh manages to bring closure to this novel, with interconnected characters and situations, in a very satisfactory manner. I often find it hard to relate to characters when there are too many plot lines to follow, but Haigh managed to engage me in the complicated lives of all the characters. 

Having enjoyed her previous novels, this did not disappoint me. I applaud her ability to weave so many social issues into a throughly engaging book. 

Thank you Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read another novel by one of my favorites.
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