Mercy Snow (Baker)

Mercy Snow 
Tiffany Baker, 2014
Grand Central Publishing
336 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781455512737

In the tiny town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire, the paper mill dictates a quiet, steady rhythm of life. But one day a tragic bus accident sets two families on a course toward destruction, irrevocably altering the lives of everyone in their wake.

June McAllister is the wife of the local mill owner and undisputed first lady in town. But the Snow family, a group of itinerant ne'er-do-wells who live on a decrepit and cursed property, have brought her—and the town—nothing but grief.

June will do anything to cover up a dark secret she discovers after the crash, one that threatens to upend her picture-perfect life, even if it means driving the Snow family out of town. But she has never gone up against a force as fierce as the young Mercy Snow.

Mercy is determined to protect her rebellious brother, whom the town blames for the accident, despite his innocence. And she has a secret of her own. When an old skeleton is discovered not far from the crash, it beckons Mercy to solve a mystery buried deep within the town's past. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Tiffany Baker is the author of The Gilly Salt Sisters and The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, which was a New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. She holds an MFA (creative writing) and a PhD (Victorian Literature) from UC Irvine, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children. (From the publisher.)

Book Reviews
Strength and quiet beauty mark Baker's writing.... Her style perfectly suits the mood, time and place of this tale. Though it tells an old story that extends back at least to Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," Mercy Snow provides an authentic universe of damaged souls and a fantastical heroine.
Anita Shreve - Washington Post

As the families' secrets come pouring out, Baker deftly balances personal grievances with broader concerns about pollution, economic justice and corporate responsibility in small-town America.
San Jose Mercury News

Baker is masterful at creating elegantly flawed characters who are both believably ordinary and extraordinary.
Family Circle

New York Times bestselling author Baker (The Little Giant of Aberdeen County) shines once again in her third novel, like its predecessors set in smalltown America. This time, the scene is Titan Falls, N.H., in the mid-1990s—a paper mill town on the brink of economic collapse. Nineteen-year-old Mercy Snow has returned to her family’s plot of land in Titan Falls with her older brother, Zeke, and younger sister, Hannah. The Snow siblings have nothing but a rusted-out RV and a reputation for trouble that they owe to their parents and grandparents. One night, a bus returning from a high school trip is run off the road, killing a local girl. Locals blame Zeke, whose crashed car was found not far from the bus. But Mercy knows it wasn’t Zeke’s fault and is determined to clear her brother’s name. The McAllisters, who own the paper mill and therefore run the town, are just as determined to stop Mercy before her quest uncovers the family’s long-buried secrets. Baker slowly but confidently unravels a gripping tale of love, justice, and redemption, set in a town where all three seem just a little out of reach.
Publishers Weekly

In her captivating third novel (after The Gilly Salt Sisters, 2012), Baker vividly renders the small town of Titan Falls, New Hampshire, and its denizens. The tiny burg has long been dominated by the fortunes of the paper mill that is its only industry and inundated by the stink of the Androscoggin River, which carries the factory runoff. At one end of the spectrum lies June McAllister, the well-off mill owner’s wife, who doggedly devotes herself to charitable causes, seeking to make her mark on the town for the sake of appearances. On the other end of town is orphan Mercy Snow and her two siblings. They have recently inherited the run-down property of their uncle and are grateful for it. When the locals, led by June, attempt to pin the blame for a school-bus accident on Mercy’s brother, she proves herself an adept advocate for his innocence and for their need to finally be able to call someplace home. Melding a rich atmosphere with vulnerable characters and an engrossing plot, Baker once again proves herself to be a first-rate storyteller. --Joanne Wilkinson

A tiny New Hampshire river town, whose main industry is a paper mill, is rocked by a tragic accident. By the mid-1990s, small American manufacturing operations are already losing ground, and jobs, to foreign competitors. However, Titan Falls, teetering on the steep banks of the polluted Androscoggin River, is still dependent on the Titan Mill, which converts lumber into paper and has been owned since time immemorial by the McAllister family. The mill employs most of the men, and June, spouse of the mill's current scion, Cal McAllister, rules the wives--membership in her knitting circle is de rigueur. The orphaned, nomadic Snow children, Zeke and his fey sisters, Mercy and Hannah, have arrived in a rickety RV to claim the plot of land vacated by their late father, Pruitt. Hannah senses that the ghost of ancestor Gert Snow, a recluse who died under suspicious circumstances, hovers nearby, making mischief. Gert's worst intervention is the event that launches the main plot--on the night before Thanksgiving, a church youth-group bus skids off a cliff while rounding an icy hairpin turn. Nate, June and Cal's teenage son, and other passengers sustain only minor injuries, but Nate's childhood best friend and secret love, Suzie, is killed. The bus driver, Fergus, husband of local sheepherder Hazel, hovers, comatose, on life support. (The skeletal remains of Gert are ominously recovered during the crash investigation.) The accident is pinned on Zeke, whose battered pickup is found nearby, crumpled against a tree. But what was one of Suzie's bright red mittens, knitted from Hazel's artisanal dyed yarn, doing in Cal's pocket, June wonders. From such minutiae, Baker crafts her appealing, occasionally cloying mélange of magic realism, mystery and social commentary. Baker (The Gilly Salt Sisters, 2012, etc.) has managed to carve out her own niche in this rocky North Woods terrain, largely due to her deeply flawed but likable characters.
Kirkus Reviews

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