I read this novel in January. It was a digital review copy from NetGalley. I love Jennifer Haigh’s writing. I’ve read every single one of her many books. The last few novels have dealt with social issues. Several years ago with her novel, FAITH, she tackled the very delicate subject of the Catholic Church and the terrible debacle with the priests. She set it in Boston. It was a firestorm. I loved it! Now, with MERCY STREET Haigh is tackling another hot-button topic: abortion. Timely and quite disturbing. Why have I not reviewed it? Good question. Unfortunately the abortion issue has become very political. So there is that. I just missed the moment.
When MERCY STREET showed up on Elaine Newton’s Critic’s Choice list for lecture this coming season, I smiled. Our Elaine does like to shift readers from their comfort zones. No matter what side of this issue you might be on, I can assure you this novel will move you.
MERCY STREET is set in Boston, a city Haigh knows only too well. She lives in New England. Claudia Birch is a counsellor at a women’s clinic named Mercy Street. She’s worked there for years. she is consumed with her work. Her patients are all in crisis. They often feel this is their second chance.
There are those who would say Mercy Street is no more than an abortion clinic. Always hovering just outside the doors to the clinic are a small group of protestors who sometimes shout and jeer as the patients enter. And when these protests accelerate, Claudia’s anxiety levels raise to the point that the only relief she finds is a visit to Timmy the pot dealer. Boy does she meet some real characters there.
Brilliantly written with heart and soul MERCY STREET will be a novel you will remember. This is a new era we are learning to maneuver through. I think of all the young women who never lived through the old days before abortion was legal. It’s hard to believe this is happening.
What did I think of MERCY STREET? Haigh is a gifted author. This is an important book. I look forward to her next!