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A Mercy
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2008
Accelerated Reader:
IL: UG - BL: 6.1 - AR Pts: 7
Status:
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Description

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In "one of Morrison's most haunting works" (New York Times) the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. But at its heart, like Beloved, it is the story of a mother and a daughter—a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.
In the 1680s the slave trade in the Americas is still in its infancy. Jacob Vaark is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh North. Despite his distaste for dealing in “flesh,” he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, who can read and write and might be useful on his farm. Rejected by her mother, Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master's house, and later from the handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved, who comes riding into their lives.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
11/11/2008
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307270443
ASIN:
B001ANURFO
Accelerated Reader:
UG
Level 6.1, 7 Points

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Toni Morrison. (2008). A Mercy. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Toni Morrison. 2008. A Mercy. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Toni Morrison, A Mercy. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2008.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Toni Morrison. A Mercy. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2008.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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        Toni Morrison is the author of eleven novels, from The Bluest Eye (1970) to God Help the Child (2015). She received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and in 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She died in 2019.

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title
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fullDescription

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In "one of Morrison's most haunting works" (New York Times) the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. But at its heart, like Beloved, it is the story of a mother and a daughter—a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.
In the 1680s the slave trade in the Americas is still in its infancy. Jacob Vaark is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh North. Despite his distaste for dealing in “flesh,” he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, who can read and write and might be useful on his farm. Rejected by her mother, Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master's house, and later from the handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved, who comes riding into their lives.

gradeLevels
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      • value: Grade 5
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Sacramento Book Review
      • content:

        "Spellbinding. . . . Dazzling. . . . [A Mercy] stands alongside Beloved as a unique triumph."--The Washington Post Book World"A Mercy conjures up the beautiful, untamed, lawless world that was America in the seventeenth-century with the same sort of lyrical, verdant prose that distinguished [Beloved]. . . . A heartbreaking account of lost innocence and fractured dreams. . . . One of Morrison's most haunting works yet." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "Luminous and complex. . . . Some of Morrison's best writing in years." --Time"Magnificent . . . As with all Morrison's finest work, A Mercy compellingly combines immediacy and obliquity. Its evocation of pioneer existence in America surrounds you with sensuous intensity. . . . An attack by a bear is described with thrilling power. . . . Idioms have potent directness, too. . . . Rich knowledgeability about 17th-century America is put to telling effect. Voices speak to you as if you were there. . . . The book keeps you vividly aware of the vital human individuality that racism's crude categorizations are brutally trying to iron out. . . . A stark story of the evils of possessiveness and the perils of dispossession emerges slantwise. Hints, suspicions, secrets, ambivalences, scarcely acknowledged motives and barely noticeable nuances serve as signposts to enormities and desperations: around slavery's large-scale uprootings, Morrison spotlights individual instances of loss (orphans and outcasts are, as often in her fiction, much in evidence; compensatory alliances they form are warmly portrayed). A Mercy is so enthralling that you'll want to read it more than once. On each occasion, it further reveals itself as a masterpiece of rewarding complexity."--Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times (London)"In [A Mercy,] a mother chooses to give her daughter to a stranger, the man who will 'own' her, in hopes that she'll find a better life. It is this act from which the book derives its title, but it is, of course, an ambivalent gesture whose tragic resonance will be slowly unveiled. . . . Morrison here is seeking some deeper truth about what she once called 'the presence of the unfree within the heart of the democratic experiment.' Some regard this novel as a kind of prelude to Beloved, but the author has even more provocative ideas at play. . . . In writing about the horror of slavery, she finds a kind of ragged hope."--Renée Graham, Boston Sunday Globe"[A Mercy] examines slavery through the prism of power, not race. Morrison achieves this by setting A Mercy in 1680s America, when slavery was a color-blind, equal-opportunity state of misery, not yet the rigid, peculiar institution it would become. . . . Morrison doesn't write traditional novels so much as create a hypnotic state of poetic intoxication. You don't read A Mercy, you fall into a miasma of language and symbolism. [It] offers an original vision of America in its primeval state, where freedom was a rare commodity."--Deirdre Donahue, USA Today "[Toni Morrison] bound[s] into literature with her new book as if it were the first time, with the spry energy of a doe. A Mercy . . . is that beguiling and beautiful, that deftly condensed, that sinewy with imaginative sentences, lyric flight and abundant human sensitivity. . . . Finely hammered phrases repeatedly come off the anvil, forming a story as powerful as the many she has shaped before. Elements of this writer's art from way back remain part of her achievement here. Like a mighty telescope perched on a contemporary plateau, Morrison draws in signals, moods, torments, exhilarations from African American...

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from December 22, 2008
        Some authors make mediocre readers, but Nobel Prize–winning Toni Morrison is certainly not among them. Her husky voice, lyrical rhythms and precise timing—especially of pauses within sentences or even phrases—give clarity and poignancy to her vivid metaphors and elegant prose. Set in the 1680s, this story tells of multiple forms of love and of slavery. Florens is a slave girl whose mother urges her sale to Jacob, a decent man, to save her from a rapist master. Florens feels abandoned and is finally betrayed by the lover she worships. Morrison holds the listener completely in thrall through her narrative, her characters, her language and her own fine reading. An enlightening interview with the author appears at the end. A Knopf hardcover (Reviews, Sept. 15).

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from September 15, 2008
        Nobel laureate Morrison returns more explicitly to the net of pain cast by slavery, a theme she detailed so memorably in Beloved
        . Set at the close of the 17th century, the book details America’s untoward foundation: dominion over Native Americans, indentured workers, women and slaves. A slave at a plantation in Maryland offers up her daughter, Florens, to a relatively humane Northern farmer, Jacob, as debt payment from their owner. The ripples of this choice spread to the inhabitants of Jacob’s farm, populated by women with intersecting and conflicting desires. Jacob’s wife, Rebekka, struggles with her faith as she loses one child after another to the harsh New World. A Native servant, Lina, survivor of a smallpox outbreak, craves Florens’s love to replace the family taken from her, and distrusts the other servant, a peculiar girl named Sorrow. When Jacob falls ill, all these women are threatened. Morrison’s lyricism infuses the shifting voices of her characters as they describe a brutal society being forged in the wilderness. Morrison’s unflinching narrative is all the more powerful for its relative brevity; it takes hold of the reader and doesn’t let go until the wrenching final-page crescendo.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from October 15, 2008
        In 1690, Anglo-Dutch trader Jacob Vaark sets off from New Amsterdam to collect a debt from a landowner in Maryland. Arriving at the plantation, Vaark discovers that the debtor cannot pay, and Vaark reluctantly decides to accept a young slave girl, Florens, as partial compensation. Taken from her baby brother and her mother, who thinks that giving up her daughter to a kinder slave owner is an act of mercy, Florens finds herself in the midst of a community of women striving to understand their burdens of sorrow and grief and to discover the mercies of love. Much as she did in "Paradise", Morrison hauntingly weaves the stories of these women into a colorful tale of loss, despair, hope, and love. Knitted together with Florens's own tale of her search to be reunited with her mother are the wrenching stories of Sorrow, a young woman who spent most of her time at sea before coming to Vaark's home; Lina, a Native American healer and storyteller who looks after Florens as a mother would a daughter; and Rebekka, Vaark's wife and Florens's mistress, who endures her own persecution, loss, and sorrow. Magical, mystical, and memorable, Morrison's poignant parable of mercies hidden and revealed belongs in every library. [See Prepub Alert, "LJ" 7/08.]Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Evanston, IL

        Copyright 2008 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from September 1, 2008
        In its first pages, Morrisons latest novel seems to be a retread of the authors old themes, settings, and narrative voice; however, it quickly achieves its own brilliant identity. The time is the late 1600s, when what will become the U.S. remains a chain of colonies along the Atlantic coast. Not only does slavery still exist, it is a thriving industry that translates into plenty of business for lots of people. These factors coalesce to provide the atmosphere and plot points for Morrisons riveting, even poetic, new novel. She has shown a partiality for the chorus method of storytelling, wherein a group of indivuals who are involved in a single event or incident tell their versions of what happened, the individual voices maintaining their distinctiveness while their personal tales overlap each other with a layering effect that gives Morrisons prose its resonance and deep sheen of enameling. Here the voices belong to the women associated with Virginia planter Jacob Vaark, who has quickly risen from ratty orphan to a man of means; these women include the long-suffering Rebekka, his wife; Lina and Sorrow, slave women with unique perspectives on the events taking place on Vaarks plantation; and Florens, a slave girl whom Vaark accepts as partial payment on a debt and whose separation from her mother is the pivotal event around which Morrison weaves her short but deeply involving story. A fitting companion to her highly regarded Beloved.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2008, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 1, 2008
        In this prequel to "Beloved", a Catholic plantation owner satisfies a debt by offering Anglo-Dutch trader Jacob Vaark a young slave girlwhose mother hopes she will find a better life. What follows is a tale of love, disease, and the brutality of slavery. ("LJ" 10/15/08)

        Copyright 2008 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In "one of Morrison's most haunting works" (New York Times) the acclaimed Nobel Prize winner reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. But at its heart, like Beloved, it is the story of a mother and a daughter—a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.
In the 1680s the slave trade in the Americas is still in its infancy. Jacob Vaark is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh North. Despite his distaste for dealing in “flesh,” he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, who can read and write and might be useful on his farm. Rejected by her mother, Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master's house, and later from the handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved, who comes...

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      • source: The New York Times
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      • source: Notable Books Council
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      • source: The New York Times
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