The Crooked Heart of Mercy
By Billie Livingston
Published by HarperCollins
Available in paperback and ebook
Billie Livingston's latest novel, The Crooked Heart of Mercy, is one of those books which will pull you into the world of its characters and not let you go until a few days after finishing the book.
This is the story of people who have had their lives torn apart by tragedy and can't seem to break away from the past without learning to forgive each other and themselves.
Ben who is having a mental breakdown after the sudden death of this child; Maggie, Ben's wife, who is trying to cope with the death and with Ben's detachment from the world as well as looking after her brother, Francis, a priest with a drinking problem and unlikely Youtube star after a mishap with a police officer. Life is tough with Maggie finding it hard to cope with real life, trying to bury herself away from the past yet it keeps catching up with her. All three characters are stuck, being held back by their pasts, unable to move forward with their lives.
Livingston creates realistic, flawed characters against the shiny, perfect background of LA - this juxtaposition shows you that people on the surface are like the city - seemingly perfect public persona but underneath there are cracks, and these characters have very deep cracks in their lives.
Loss and grief eat away at these characters with Ben pushing away Maggie, and Maggie making her brother suffer for their childhood. As this gripping story develops, the vulnerability of their relationships starts to strength as they all come to the realisation that they must seek redemption with each other and forgive themselves for the past. Livingston really digs into the depths of these characters, and this pulled me into the story and made me really care about the fate of these characters, and even after reading the book, I was worrying about their future.
I said it in my mini-review but the UK cover isn't the greatest, and I really think this fantastic story of families, redemption and forgiveness deserves a better cover. You can buy The Crooked Heart of Mercy at your favourite bookshop.
This book was sent to me by the publisher.