This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
2014 HarperCollins and Blackstone Audio
Readers: Scott Sowers, Jenna Lamia and Erik Bergmann
Finished on July 22, 2014
Rating: 4.75/5 (Terrific!)
Hailed as “mesmerizing” (New York Times Book Review) and “as if Cormac McCarthy decided to rewrite Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird” (Richmond Times-Dispatch) A Land More Kind Than Home made Wiley Cash an instant literary sensation. His resonant new novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, is a tale of love and atonement, blood and vengeance, a story that involves two young sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay for his sins. --
When their mother dies unexpectedly, twelve-year-old Easter and her six-year-old sister Ruby are shuffled into the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina, a town not far from the Appalachian mountains. But just as they settle into their new life, their errant father, Wade, an ex-minor league baseball player whom they haven't seen in years, suddenly reappears and steals them away in the middle of the night.
Brady Weller, the girls' court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and he quickly turns up unsettling information linking Wade to a multimillion-dollar robbery. But Brady isn't the only one hunting him. Also on the trail is Robert Pruitt, a mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, a man determined to find Wade and claim what he believes he is owed.
The combination of Cash’s evocative and intimate Southern voice and those of the alternating narrators, Easter, Brady, and Pruitt, brings this soulful story vividly to life. At once captivating and heartbreaking, This Dark Road to Mercy is a testament to the unbreakable bonds of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.
This Dark Road to Mercy captured my heart from the opening lines thanks to the outstanding performance by reader Jenna Lamina. Reminiscent of Catherine Tabor’s performance for The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, Lamina’s southern accent is spot-on and captivating. I quickly became engrossed in Easter and Ruby’s story, eager to return to this remarkable audio book at every available opportunity. The narrative takes place during the summer of 1998 and I found myself reminiscing about my own long, hot summer afternoons in Fort Worth, Texas, spent stretched out in front of the television, watching Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa race toward the home-run record. I do so love a good baseball story and one that is set in the south makes for a perfect novel, don’t you agree?
I could see everything around me now: the whole outfield with Sammy Sosa standing over in right, the upper deck, and the open white circle of the ballpark above us where the bright blue sky almost looked like a lid that was keeping all the heat trapped inside. I could feel everything around me too: the crowd was so loud that you couldn’t even hear the music or the announcers, and when Brian Jordan hit a fly ball to left field and McGwire stepped into the batter’s box with nobody on base it was the loudest thing I’d ever heard. Ruby stuffed her hot dog in her mouth and covered her ears with her hands. But as soon as McGwire set his feet and got into his batting stance the whole stadium went totally silent, and you couldn’t hardly hear a thing.
Maybe it was all the heat, or maybe it was the breeze coming across the field from home plate, but something about it all reminded me of the first time me and Ruby saw the ocean. It felt like years ago, even though it hadn’t quite been a week, but I remembered it now: the way the warm sand felt under my feet, the sound of the tide like the whispering voices I heard all around me now, the sight of the waves moving far out in the ocean like the way people were moving all around the ballpark, trying to get a better look at what might be about to happen.
Part mystery, part coming-of-age (and with a powerful baseball story providing the perfect backdrop),Wiley Cash has written a beautiful story that will steal your heart from the opening lines. Fans of All Over But the Shoutin’ (Rick Bragg), The Homecoming of Samuel Lake (Jenny Wingfield), Calling Me Home (Julie Kibler) and The Help (Kathryn Stockett) are sure to fall in love with Cash’s lyrical prose and I suspect book clubs across the country will make this one of their top picks of 2014. I plan to pick up a copy of This Dark Road to Mercy when the paperback edition hits the shelves later this month. I encourage you to do the same. This is one to own!
About the Author
Wiley Cash is from western North Carolina, a region that figures prominently in his fiction. He holds a BA in literature from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, an MA in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He and his wife currently live in West Virginia, where he teaches fiction writing and American literature at Bethany College.