At the City Lit Festival author Frank S. Joseph gave me a copy of his book To Love Mercy and I agreed to review it.
My immediate worry was that it would suck. Then I would have to say so, and then I’d look like a jerk.
And I don’t want to look like a jerk. I don’t really want to be a book reviewer, actually. I want to be someone who connects curious readers or non-readers to books that will thrill and entertain and enlighten them.
Luckily, I think To Love Mercy will do that for many. When I began reading I noticed the lack of quotation marks and feared all over that I’d have to trash the book. But Joseph uses the lack of quotation marks to unleash his characters, like Steve and Sass, who immediately take their freedom and dash tornado-like over the width and breadth of Chicago.
Meanwhile Joseph and all his adult characters twist their guts around over the troubles of race and religion, which is just exactly how the world works. There are plenty of issues to deal with, too, which makes To Love Mercy probably too heavy for young kids but perfect for teens who probably all hate the fact that adults try to whitewash things for them in the first place.
A hidden benefit of big publishing houses ignoring new authors and requiring them to interact with their readers themselves is that authors like Joseph offer so much interaction. In addition to the historical notes and pictures in the back of the book there an online reader’s guide and real invitations to discuss over meail with the author himself.
Just as Joseph refuses to sum up the racial issues in a pat (and hence false) Hollywood conclusion, I won’t try to boil his book down to a sentence. If you’re interested after what I’ve said, you should go check it out: To Love Mercy. I don’t think you’ll be dissapointed.