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Mercy Among the Children (2000)

by David Adams Richards

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6913027,056 (3.88)71
At the age of twelve, Sidney Henderson, in a moment of anger, pushes his friend Connie Devlin off the roof of a local church. Looking down on Connie's motionless body, Sidney believes he is dead. "Let Connie live and I will never harm another soul," Sidney vows. At that moment, Connie stands up and, laughing, walks away. In the years that follow, the brilliant, self-educated, ever-gentle Sidney keeps his promise, even in the face of the hatred and persecution of his insular, rural community, which sees his pacifism as an opportunity to exploit and abuse him. Sidney's son Lyle, however, witnessing his family's suffering with growing resentment and anger, comes to reject both God and his father and assumes an increasingly aggressive stance in defense of his family.When a small boy is killed in a tragic accident and Sidney is blamed, Lyle takes matters into his own, violent hands in an effort to protect the only people he loves: his beautiful and fragile mother, Elly; his gifted sister, Autumn; and his innocent, beatific brother, Percy. In the end, no one but Lyle can determine the legacy his family's tragedy will hold. Written with abiding compassion and profound wisdom, and imbued with a luminous grace that is as haunting as it is precisely controlled, "Mercy Among the Children" is epic storytelling at its absolute finest, populated with richly drawn characters who walk off the pages and into history. With a never-failing elegance and humane moral vision that call to mind Joseph Conrad and Thomas Hardy, David Adams Richards has crafted a magnificent, heartbreaking novel whose towering ambition is matched only by the level of its achievement.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Mercy among the children is a story of a small town in rural New Brunswick where a family is devastated by actions in the community. The story is told by the son of a family living below the poverty line and just managing to make it in the small town. How can one persons actions cause so much chaos? This is the story on how quickly it can happen and how out of hand it can get.. definitely recommended reading.. ( )
  sjh4255 | May 4, 2021 |
Totally amazing writing. There were so many interior thoughts and details. The more I read this book, the more I was drawn into the interior lives of the characters and the depth of humanity portrayed by all the actors. This story is about a man who became a frustrating pacifist, even when it wrecked havoc on his family and kept him poor. He held his intelligence or opinions in check so as not to hold sway over other people. He believed that the truth would set them free. But his son and daughter struggled because of it and his son became the aggressor, in part to protect his sister, but also out of frustration with the small-minded people who took advantage of his father. When twelve-year-old Sidney Henderson pushes his friend Connie off the roof of a local church in a moment of anger, he makes a silent vow: Let Connie live and I will never harm another soul. At that very moment, Connie stands, laughs, and walks away. Sidney keeps his promise through adulthood despite the fact that his insular, rural community uses his pacifism to exploit him. Sidney's son Lyle, however, assumes an increasingly aggressive stance in defense of his family. When a small boy is killed in a tragic accident and Sidney is blamed, Lyle takes matters into his own hands. In his effort to protect the people he loves -- his beautiful and fragile mother, Elly; his gifted sister, Autumn; and his innocent brother, Percy -- it is Lyle who will determine his family's legacy. ( )
  CarolBurrows | Dec 23, 2020 |
Early on in this book I nearly had to stop reading because the author had painted such a bleak and depressing picture of injustice being dished out to an 'innocent' man. The man refused to defend himself in any way and his silence in the face of accusations was taken as an admission of guilt. Anyway, I did keep reading, reminding myself that this was a Giller Prize winner and hence in such fine company as Elizabeth Hay. It turned out that I managed to read all the way to the end, but I was left still waiting for the good parts to arrive. I found the characters largely unbelievable, especially in a contemporary context. Would anyone really behave like this? I also found the plot to be too full of coincidence and towards the end the action had a kind of farcical feel. I suspect LibraryThing recommended this to me because it "knows" that I like Canadian authors. But here's a tip, LibraryThing, it's Canadian *women* authors that I find so good. ( )
  oldblack | Aug 20, 2018 |
Really didn't want to put this one down. Got completely drawn in to the world of the Hendersons and their tiny house and sad stories. Very well written.

There were a few elements which stretched credulity: except for Lyle the Henderson family seemed too good to be true, for example, while the Pits were just the opposite. I also thought it was unlikely that Sydney would have left his family for quite such a long stretch of time. Some odd repetitions, too: more than one character (in the space of a few pages) thought their life was going to "implode like a house of cards".

And I know that this is not the author's fault, but this ebook edition had clearly not been proof-read after conversion from print to electronic form. 'fire' appears as 'tire', for example, and 'burns' as 'bums', while 'die' appears as 'the' more than once. ( )
  AJBraithwaite | Aug 14, 2017 |
Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards was originally published in 2000. Richards won the Giller Prize (Canada's most prestigious literary award), and the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award for Author of the Year and Fiction Book of the Year for Mercy Among the Children.

Oh. My. Goodness. This is an incredible, heart breaking novel that will haunt me for years to come. The story of Sydney Henderson's family, as told by grown son Lyle, is about the price they all pay for Sydney's refusal to abandon his principles. The novel is stronger and richer because it is told from the son's point of view. It is about the nature of good and evil, and the relationship between fathers and sons. But it is unrelentingly sad. I wanted some justice for Sydney and his family. I wanted Sydney to fight back, but Richards kept Sydney true to his principles. This is a brilliant study of human nature and the selfishness and pettiness that rules the daily lives of so many people.

Mercy Among the Children is not for everyone. It is simply so sad. I was anxious for the family. I bawled like a baby several times. Many readers, like me, will also be angry at all the people in the Henderson's lives who did not speak up and take a stand. In the end, Mercy Among the Children could be a parable showing that the truth will eventually come out, although perhaps not in the expected way. Oh, it should also be mentioned that Richards is an incredibly gifted writer.
One of the best - Very Highly Recommended. http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
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To Robert Couture
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The small Catholic churches here are all the same, white clapboard drenched with snow or blistering under a northern sun, their interiors smelling of confessionals and pale statues of the Madonna.
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"There are vague and cavernous reaches in Dante's hell where the worst sin is betrayal - but he hell I was in was not Dante's so much as Milton's, where Satan stood facing his son - Death."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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At the age of twelve, Sidney Henderson, in a moment of anger, pushes his friend Connie Devlin off the roof of a local church. Looking down on Connie's motionless body, Sidney believes he is dead. "Let Connie live and I will never harm another soul," Sidney vows. At that moment, Connie stands up and, laughing, walks away. In the years that follow, the brilliant, self-educated, ever-gentle Sidney keeps his promise, even in the face of the hatred and persecution of his insular, rural community, which sees his pacifism as an opportunity to exploit and abuse him. Sidney's son Lyle, however, witnessing his family's suffering with growing resentment and anger, comes to reject both God and his father and assumes an increasingly aggressive stance in defense of his family.When a small boy is killed in a tragic accident and Sidney is blamed, Lyle takes matters into his own, violent hands in an effort to protect the only people he loves: his beautiful and fragile mother, Elly; his gifted sister, Autumn; and his innocent, beatific brother, Percy. In the end, no one but Lyle can determine the legacy his family's tragedy will hold. Written with abiding compassion and profound wisdom, and imbued with a luminous grace that is as haunting as it is precisely controlled, "Mercy Among the Children" is epic storytelling at its absolute finest, populated with richly drawn characters who walk off the pages and into history. With a never-failing elegance and humane moral vision that call to mind Joseph Conrad and Thomas Hardy, David Adams Richards has crafted a magnificent, heartbreaking novel whose towering ambition is matched only by the level of its achievement.

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At the age of twelve, Sydney Henderson pushes his friend Connie Devlin from the church roof. Looking down on Connie’s motionless body, Sydney believes he is dead. Let Connie live and I will never harm another soul, Sydney vows to God. At that moment, Connie stands up, wipes his bloody nose, and with a laugh, walks away. In the years that follow, the self-educated, brilliant and now almost pathologically gentle Sydney holds true to his promise. Yet others in the small rural community regard Sydney’s pacifism as an opportunity to exploit and torment the vulnerable Hendersons. Raised on the books his father has long collected, Sydney’s eldest son Lyle shares a deep respect for the power of words. But forced to witness the persecution of those he loves, Lyle turns his back on God and literature and adopts a more aggressive strategy for the protection of his family. An exploration of how humanity faces inhumanity, how lies and disappointments cannot and will never destroy truth and human greatness, Mercy Among The Children is a novel set in a particular place and time, yet universal in its message.
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Arcade Publishing

2 editions of this book were published by Arcade Publishing.

Editions: 1611451914, 161145719X

Hachette Book Group

An edition of this book was published by Hachette Book Group.

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