Mercy Among the Children

Mercy Among the Children

A Novel

Book - 2001
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Baker & Taylor
Blaming himself for the death of another child, twelve-year-old Sidney Henderson takes a vow of non-violence that lasts into adulthood, when an act of violence forces him to turn his back on his promise never to harm another human being.

Blackwell North Amer
At the age of twelve, Sidney Henderson, in a moment of anger, pushes his friend Connie Devlin off the roof of a local church. Looking down on Connie's motionless body, Sidney believes he is dead. Let Connie live and I will never harm another soul, Sidney vows. At that moment, Connie stands up and, laughing, walks away.
In the years that follow, the brilliant, self-educated, ever-gentle Sidney keeps his promise, even in the face of the hatred and persecution of his insular, rural community, which sees his pacifism as an opportunity to exploit and abuse him. Sidney's son Lyle, however, witnessing his family's suffering with growing resentment and anger, comes to reject both God and his father and assumes an increasingly aggressive stance in defense of his family. When a small boy is killed in a tragic accident and Sidney is blamed, Lyle takes matters into his own, violent hands in an effort to protect the only people he loves: his beautiful and fragile mother, Elly; his gifted sister, Autumn; and his innocent, beatific brother, Percy. In the end, no one but Lyle can determine the legacy his family's tragedy will hold.

& Taylor

Blaming himself for the death of another child, twelve-year-old Sidney Henderson takes a vow of non-violence that lasts into adulthood, when an act of violence forces him to turn his back on his promise never to harm another human being. 35,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Arcade Pub., 2001
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781559705868
Characteristics: 371 p. ; 25 cm


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VaughanPLAlexK Dec 15, 2016

I first read Mercy Among the Children in high school. Our assignment was to choose a Canadian author, read one of their works, summarize it, and write about how it made you feel. I remember being immediately drawn to it, as Sydney pushes his friend off a church roof and then makes a pact with God: providing his friend lives, he will lead a life free of violence. David Adams Richards explores the concepts morality, poverty, and life in Canada, with just a little bit of darkness mixed into the equation.

Oct 08, 2016

Mercy Among the Children is a tragic family saga full of irony and suspense. As in other novels of his that I have read, the wrongfully accused play an important role in the plot. This complex story is well developed, brilliantly written and powerfully moving. The story made me think about the differences between passive and submissive personality types. There were also characters who were aggressors and characters who were defenders.

Jul 29, 2016

So many themes throughout this book: strength vs pacifism, poverty/lack of voice vs privilege/voice, good vs evil (of course), truth vs lies and choices.
There's alcoholism, abuse, destitution, vileness of people (the town's people are all basically selfish, mean, greedy), martyrs, rage and so much more. It's about facing your beliefs and living with them, the good & bad of this choice.....and who it may hurt or help. It's a story of family, father & sons and community.
It's not a happy story but compelling. This is a family who live lives of quiet desperation and did so with a majesty of sorts. Elly's pure heart and Sydney's convictions & belief in the Truth build a strong family....but not without its problems as they try to find their way.
There are twists and turns, some surprises, sadness. Although bleak, this story never dips into the hopeless.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 16, 2014

One of our most talented Canadian authors, Richard’s books have been among those quiet hand-picks, passed around by readers for years; but with the winning of the Giller Prize, he steps out of the shadows and onto the main stage. His poignant characters wrench at your heart in their search for truth. Life along the Miramichi River in New Brunswick is often grim and dark, but without sentimentality, Richards leads his characters towards redemption.

teresa_johnson Aug 29, 2013

Characters that you will not forget and a story that makes you think about class, education, the environment, truth and morality.

Aug 01, 2012

While it is an emotionally sad story, I really enjoyed it and could not put it down. I will definitely read more from this author.

Apr 02, 2012

A masterpiece. Richards' novels are not light reading, so be forewarned. What I like about this novel is that even the lowest, most despicable characters are portrayed as human beings. Without condoning the terribly selfish things they do, Richards allows the reader walk a mile in their shoes.
At first, I had a hard time understanding why the main character didn't move away with his family and escape from the awful people around them. I guess many people don't know how to escape from people that are bent on poisoning the lives of others. Reading Richards' personal reflections in another of his recent books, "God Is", will enrich the experience of this book (and vice versa).

Dec 01, 2010

Well, I agree with the comments thus far, wonderfully written but oh so depressing. I cried and cried and kept asking myself "why am I reading this?" yet I couldn't put it down.

Jun 01, 2010

This is the best book I feel I have read to date . Not only did it encompass aspects of Eastern Canada many Canadians tend to not have knowledge of but also is eye awakening to the realities of life and an unwavering moral code. The life stories intertwined throughout the novel are ones which will stick with you for years to come.

VeganGreen Sep 10, 2009

Well written but way too depressing - people being trampled to the ground and then beaten, kicked and walked all over, all because of their foolish misguided moral code. I need a glimmer of hope in a story, so may have to give up on this one.

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