-- Booklist (starred review) " Under The Mercy Trees will take your breath away." --Robin Antalek, author of The Summer We Fell Apart Heather Newton's Under the Mercy Trees is a beautifully rendered, heartbreaking first novel that heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in Southern fiction. Read more...
--Booklist (starred review) "Under The Mercy Trees will take your breath away."--Robin Antalek, author of The Summer We Fell Apart Heather Newton's Under the Mercy Trees is a beautifully rendered, heartbreaking first novel that heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in Southern fiction. The poignant and unforgettable story of a man forced to face his troubled past when he returns to his small hometown in the mountains of North Carolina following the disappearance of his brother, Under the Mercy Trees adds the name Heather Newton to a sterling list of acclaimed authors in the Southern literary tradition that already includes Reynolds Price, Kaye Gibbons, Jill McCorkle, Clyde Edgerton, and Tom Franklin.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-10-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Newton delivers a stirring debut novel told from the perspectives of four central characters embroiled in a family drama that spans generations and is riddled with defensive secrecy and emotional penury in equal measure. After the disappearance of Leon Owenby, his younger brother and central narrator, Martin, returns to the family's Willoby County, N.C., mountain town from his life as a destitute writer in New York City to aid in the search for Leon and support his other siblings. The year is 1986; Martin leaves behind his ex-lover, Dennis, and their many friends sick and dying from AIDS. Back home, he must face his painful past, his extended family to whom he is closeted, and his high school girlfriend (who still carries a torch for him). Many months of searching reveal more about the searchers than about Leon; the secrets and resentments in the Owenby family run deep and bubble to the surface unexpectedly. It's problematic that with so many family issues coming to light, Martin's sexuality is ignored and remains a secret, but Newton's use of multiple viewpoints and distinct voices is adept and lively, and helps to fill in the thin premise of Leon's disappearance. With many novels of this construction, a reader tends to favor one voice over the rest. Not so here; Newton delivers across the board with these characters, who run the gamut from perky to depressive, desperate to schizophrenic. (Jan.)