Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh
A tense, riveting story about the disparate lives that intersect at a women's clinic in Boston.
Content Warning: This book touches on abortion, women's reproductive health, and some violence against women.
Set against the backdrop of a Boston women's clinic, Haigh brings empathy and love to the complicated world that is women's reproductive care in the United States. At times saddening, the story is full of hope and reminders of the strength of women.
The story follows counselor Claudia as she counsels women seeking abortion care and navigating the roadblocks of care. In this clinic, Claudia appears to have it all pulled together but the reality is that she is struggling to navigate the pressures of her job, family, and relationships amidst continued threats for her work. We see Claudia as she struggles to maintain her equilibrium as her work brings her into contact with bizarre men seeking to protect the world against the sins of the clinic.
Haigh's writing is incredibly poignant and compelling. This is not a plot driven story, but more of a character study of people living their lives and the way their lives intersect at different points. The consequences of our decisions and how we choose to move forward.
This book will likely draw a very specific audience that I am probably very representative of (white, liberal woman), but I do hope that it reaches a wider audience. It really highlights the complexities of making reproductive choices, the heartbreaking and very real situations that lead women to seek abortion care, and the systems in place that make it almost impossible for find care now. There are moments that were very emotional and anger inducing, but its all in service to the story.
If you are a fan of complex character driven stories, then add Haigh to your list!
Thank you to Ecco Press and Netgalley for early access to the title in exchange for my honest review.
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