The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

Eliza's Review: I'm coming to Susan Meissner fresh, never having read any of her work before. THE SHAPE OF MERCY looked like one of my fantasy jobs: a college girl is hired to transcribe a journal of one of the Salem, Massachusetts, girls sentenced to death during the infamous witch trials.

There's a huge hook in that for bookish girls like me. I mean, it's a dream come true. But the hook isn't nearly as interesting as the themes, characters, and the stories surrounding them all. Lauren is a privileged California college student questioning her, and everyone else's, place in the world. As she deciphers the contents of Mercy's journal, her questions regarding her own life become more fundamental. Lauren realizes that the most important truths surpass race, social class, and even time, and her journey is not only enjoyable, but completely believable. THE SHAPE OF MERCY is a read anyone will benefit from. Seriously, guys, this is a must-read.

Women of all ages will appreciate this highly-readable, layered, and fast-paced story about self-discovery at all stages of life. With rich undertones of intrigue and romance, this contemporary novel with a historical twist explores personal blinders and how upbringing and conditioning can shape people to judge others in ways that can lead to unhappy consequences.

Lauren Durough is a college student who finds herself on the road to self-discovery as she is hired by octogenarian Abigail Boyles to transcribe the journals of Mercy Hayworth, a seventeenth-century victim of the Massachusetts witch trials. Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to the truth, will Lauren find herself playing the helpless defendant or the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and see who she really is?

Readers will identify with Lauren’s struggle to break away from society’s expectations and her attempt to strike out on her own while figuring out what parts of her own story to hold on to.