A review by oceanwriter
Mercury by Amy Jo Burns

emotional hopeful reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I have been striving to find a quiet yet thought-provoking work of literary fiction ever since finishing Dirt Music last year. Mercury hit all the points I was hoping for and more. 
Marley is a newcomer in the small town of Mercury. Before long, she is involved with the Joseph family. Having been raised by only her mother and longing for the experience of a full family, she tries to make a place for herself at their table. She becomes Waylon’s wife, Mick and Elise’s daughter-in-law, Shay and Baylor’s sister-in-law, and Theo’s mother. Instead of finding the stability of a family, she is thrust into a life of secrets and pretense. What does it mean it be a Joseph? 
Though the book is quite eventful, it’s told in a quiet and calculated way. We get a good glimpse of all of the characters, granted, some more than others. Each ends up with their own perceptions of certain events and relationships that all weave together by the end of the story. 
Shay had my heart throughout so much of the book, but toward the end found myself completely latched onto Baylor. Marley was a strong protagonist, too, and her dominant point of view was strong. I enjoyed the subtle (and some less subtle) effects of complex family trauma and the characters navigating their dysfunctional family unit. I do feel like there were a few matters that fell by the wayside and never got resolved, but it didn’t hinder the overall story. 

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