Christian Book Previews Home
Christian Book Previews
Book Jacket

320 pages
Sep 2008
WaterBrook Press

The Shape of Mercy: A Novel

by Susan Meissner

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt


The lives of three women are connected in The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner, a powerful story about mercy, preconceived notions, and love. Lauren Durough was brought into the world as a daughter in a wealthy family. Trying to get away from her haughty lifestyle, Lauren goes to college, lives on campus with a roommate, and decides to get a job. She is hired by Abigail Boyles to transcribe the diary of Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials. Along the way, she struggles to overcome her judgmental attitude toward others around her and learns how to overcome the person she has been.

With a voice that comes out of the pages, Susan Meissner creates a believable set of characters and settings without resorting to the stereotypical ideas of what a person should be. The relationships work in the novel without become trite. Even the love interest that develops in the book is done well. The overall style of the book is one that captivates interest and makes the reader to want to keep reading. When reaching the end of the book, I was surprised at how much I was affected by the story.

While Lauren has faith in God, her relationships at the beginning of the novel hardly reflect God’s loving nature. She is too blinded by what she wants to believe about others. Through transcribing Mercy’s diary, Lauren learns to trust God even more and to see others in a new way. Mercy’s story teaches a wonderful lesson about displaying mercy to those who do wrong against you, and it gives a perfect example of mercy as described in James 2:13. Abigail’s story shows Lauren how to become the person she wants to be.

This book is a wonderful tale that delivers a powerful message about tolerance and peace everyone can learn from. I highly recommend it. -- Timothy Steece,

Book Jacket:

Leaving a life of privilege to strike out on her own, Lauren Durough breaks with convention and her family’s expectations by choosing a state college over Stanford and earning her own income over accepting her ample monthly allowance. She takes a part-time job from 83-year-old librarian Abigail Boyles, who asks Lauren to transcribe the journal entries of her ancestor Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the Salem witch trials.

Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. As the fervor around the witch accusations increases, Mercy becomes trapped in the worldview of the day, unable to fight the overwhelming influence of snap judgments and superstition, and Lauren realizes that the secrets of Mercy’s story extend beyond the pages of her diary, living on in the mysterious, embittered Abigail.

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?