Thursday, 26 September 2013

Book Review: PERFECT MERCY by Elaine Fraser


Review by Anne Hamilton


PERFECT MERCY
Elaine Fraser
Beautiful Books

I’ve often wondered how to penetrate the mentality of the new aristocracy. There’s an entire generation of young adults who are ‘entitled’, if not ‘titled’. Routinely, they turn up to work late, if at all; take days off at whim and without notice; expect, if they lose their jobs, to go on government benefits. To this generation, it’s not ‘stealing’ if you take something from someone else, so long as they don’t deserve it as much as you do. For this generation, social media has redefined the norms: ‘narcissism’ — which I remember a mere twenty years ago as being symptomatic of evil — is now a virtue. ‘Selfies’ rule.

How do we explain God’s grace to a generation this deeply entitled? My parents’ generation was passionate about truth; mine about authenticity; this one cares for little but fun.

God’s grace? The gospel? How could there be any good news other than that of yet-more-extreme fun?

All this by way of explaining why I think Elaine Fraser’s PERFECT MERCY is such a significant book. There is one way that has been discovered by which the gospel can overcome the barriers this generation erect: through the medium of story.

PERFECT MERCY has many hallmarks of a self-published book: there’s the usual error on the first page, the fonts at times are a little too small, the interior design could use a little more work in leading and margins—and in terms of the writing, point of view wavers a fair bit.
On the plus side, the cover is stylish with a beautiful feel to it. The tips at the chapter tops are fun, witty, ‘in the moment’, so cleverly contemporary with their comments are Facebook and how people use (and abuse) it. Definitely a book for girls hooked on the social media phenomenon.

This is a book about beauty for the soul. PERFECT MERCY is about Mercy Hamilton, the ‘Perfect Mercy’, who runs her life and controls her boyfriend Trent so that the world around her fulfils her dreams of style. She harasses easy-going Trent to wear clothes that will coordinate with hers: every time she steps out the door, she wants to be the epitome of fashion and social perfection.

Mercy is oblivious to the world around her, unless it happens to impinge on the image of perfection she’s creating. Her wealthy father has given her a BMW to drive to school where she works hard to maintain an image of academic perfection, along with maintaining a position as fashion leader, head of the ‘cool’ group and social luminary.

It all starts to unravel when she decides to take revenge on Trent for not answering her phone calls for a couple of hours. She hooks up with Dave very publicly at a party and from then on, her life goes into damage control.

I greatly admire this book. But admire doesn’t mean ‘like’. I find Mercy a very hard character to warm to—while she is brilliantly portrayed as a archetypal member of the new aristocracy, her stark self-centredness takes centre stage for most of the book.

Still, this is not a book for me or my generation. I’ll be very interested to see the reaction of the young adult generation for which it is intended. It could just be the dose of ‘perfect mercy’ they need.

ANNE HAMILTON is an author of devotional theology and of children’s fantasy. She is an avid reader of YA literature, especially in speculative fiction area.

6 comments:

  1. Perfect Mercy has just arrived in my mailbox, courtesy of http://christianbookclub.com.au/index.php/current-featured-books/september-2013.

    My first thought was that it's a beautiful cover - now I just have to read it! I'll also pass it on to my daughter (who is in the target age group), but I can't guarantee she'll read it. She's a keen reader, but seems to think any book recommended by Mum is second-rate. Ah, well.

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  2. I'm intrigued to read this now. Perhaps books like this that blatantly address major issues for our youth will be helpful in bringing understanding between all generations. Thanks Annie

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  3. Thanks, Annie. Elaine, I'll keep the book in mind for my two granddaughters--really good to know there is a book around like this that portrays such current teen issues. Love the cover!

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  4. Thanks, Annie. I loved your description of the 'entitled' youth. I feel the same about them and, in a class of about 30 high school students, there were only about 3 or 4 who did not fall into that category. If only we had that book in our school library at the time, I would have included it in the list of books to be studied in my English classes!
    Perhaps more schools should include Elaine Fraser's 'Perfect Mercy' in their reading lists.
    Hazel Barker

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  5. I'm sure I'd have the same response as you have, Annie, if I read this book. Which I probably won't, but I'm really glad it's there for the younger generation and I pray it will help them to reflect on their world view and assess their values.

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  6. Annie, thanks for your insightful and informative review. I agree with you and Carol, this book isn't for me, but it sounds like a relevant and helpful read for those who see having a job etc. as a right rather than a privilege.

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