Friday, January 20, 2012

Review: Mercy Lily by Lisa Albert

Title: Mercy Lily
Author: Lisa Albert
Publisher: Flux
Release date: October 8th 2011
Pages: 240
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Mama has slowly been losing herself to MS. After traditional treatment fails, she takes bee sting therapy, administered by Lily, to alleviate her pain. Lily is trained as a veterinary assistant, so she can easily handle the treatments. What she can't handle is what happens when the bee sting therapy fails and it becomes clear that Mama wants to die. One beautiful summer day, Lily's mother asks her for the most impossible thing of all—mercy. They live in Oregon, where the Death with Dignity Act allows a patient to make the decision to end their own life. While navigating first love, friendship, and the other normal worries faced by high school sophomores, Lily also has to choose: grant Mama's request, or cling to Mama's fading life for all it's worth.

Goodreads description:
Parkfield High School's courtyard swarms with students as I walk the mossy path to my bus stop.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I was really excited to read Mercy Lily. Physician-assisted suicide is a fascinating topic by itself, and a mother asking her daughter to let her go seemed like such a great idea for a novel. However, the actual book fell flet for me, and I  was pretty disappointed.

What first drew me in with Mercy Lily - the assisted suicide storyline - turned out to not play an as important role as I'd thought. I thought Mercy Lily would be mainly about Lily having to decide whether or not to let her mom go, but really, Lily's mom has already decided for herself to deny treatment and ask for the medication to leave this world. Lily doesn't need to decide whether or not her mom will go; she just needs to decide whether to support her mother in her decision or whether to stay mad at her mom for giving up. And while that in itself wouldn't be a bad storyline, it's not what I expected from Mercy Lily.

Lily's character fell flat for me, and I can't even explain why. She should be easy to feel for, having already lost her dad and now losing her mom, but it just didn't happen. Her thoughts and feelings are underdeveloped, in my opinion, and I don't feel like I ever really got to know her. That made me feel removed from the whole story, so much so that I didn't cry at all, even though the story itself is tragic (and I'm a huge crybaby, normally).

The writing is, well, okay. Mostly, it's beautiful, and I really enjoyed the symbolism and all that, especially the description of the lilies. But the dialogue didn't work for me at all - it's unrealistic and just strange.

The storyline with Lily's former friends fell flat for me too. Everything about how they all used to be friends, their falling out, and their slowly working out their problems now seemed kind of pointless to me. The characters are flat, especially Trent, and the development is much too fast to be realistic.

There is one thing I loved, though, and that's the role animals play in Mercy Lily. I really enjoyed reading about the dog, the horse, the rest of the farm animals, and even the spider -  they all felt like actual characters, which was probably my favorite aspect of the book.

I know most of what I've said in this review is negative, and technically, there are a lot of things wrong with Mercy Lily, but somehow, this book still had an impression on me - I don't really know what it is, but for whatever reason, the novel is kind of beautiful and peaceful. I'm kind of confused on what to make of the whole book, so I don't know whether to recommend it or not. What I do know, though, is that what I thought would be great about Mercy Lily - the discussion of physician-assisted suicide - fell flat, so you shouldn't expect too much from that.


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