Cover image for Mercy's birds
Mercy's birds
Holeman, Linda, 1949-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Toronto ; Plattsburgh, N.Y. : Tundra Books, [1998]

Physical Description:
198 pages ; 20 cm
Reading Level:
670 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.5 7.0 32724.

Reading Counts RC High School 5.2 12 Quiz: 28931 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"Mercy doesn't have your average family, but it's the only one she's ever known. She, her mother Pearl, and her aunt Moo move from one falling-down rental house to another. Somehow they've always managed to get by, but lately things seem to be spinning out of control. Why is Pearl growing smaller, saying less and less as she retreats to the security of her bedroom? Why is her aunt growing larger and noisier as she reads fortunes in teacups and tarot cards and palms? And while Mercy tries to keep up at school and with her job, she lives in fear of the day Barry, Moo's boyfriend, comes back to live with them all."

Author Notes

"Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Linda Holeman had always dreamed of becoming an author. Her first writing success came when she was in grade 5. A story she had written was aired on the CBC radio program Story Broadcast Journal and she still has a copy of the booklet it was published in. Her career has included stints as a classroom and resource teacher and an adult workshop instructor. Her first published work as an adult was a collection of short stories called Saying Good-bye in 1995. She is the author of Frankie on the Run, a picture book and Flying to Yellow and The Devil's Darning Needle , two collections of short stories for adults. Her fiction and non-fiction pieces have appeared in numerous anthologies. Both Promise Song, her first young adult novel and Mercy's Birds, her second, were selected for Books for the Teen Age lists by The New York Public Library. Her third YA novel, Raspberry House Blues, was published in Fall 2000 to excellent reviews. All three novels feature strong female teen protagonists and have been praised for the true representation of character, and especially, dialogue. Search of the Moon Kin

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-10. At school, 15-year-old Mercy is the mysterious new girl, the loner dressed head to toe in black. The other kids tease her; she knows the teachers think she's trouble. But Mercy's tough punk facade hides loneliness and hurt, and a devastating home life. She takes care of her depressed, withdrawn mother and alcoholic aunt, and works to help cover their household expenses; worse, her aunt's boyfriend has made improper advances to Mercy, and she fears the consequences of telling. The flower shop where she works is the only place she feels safe. Mercy's fears and responsibilities become too much to handle alone, and she has to risk letting people in. Her employer becomes an unexpected ally, and a girl at school proves a trustworthy friend. With her grandmother's help, Mercy comes to terms with past and present circumstances, develops the confidence to effect positive change, and more importantly, learns to trust in good hearts. In lyrical, descriptive prose, the poignant novel effectively portrays a young girl's despair and her process of healing. The characters are well-developed and realistic; Holeman addresses poverty, abuse, and depression with compassion and a perceptive eye. Eloquent and impacting, Mercy's story is an engrossing one, charged with emotional depth. --Shelle Rosenfeld

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Mercy, her mother Pearl, and her Aunt "Moo" have been on a downward socioeconomic slide for some time. As the novel opens, the teen is adjusting to yet another new school and to the realization that her aunt's boyfriend, who made sexual advances toward Mercy and threatened to hurt her if she told anyone, is due to return from an overseas job. Like her mother, who has become clinically depressed, and her aunt, who has retreated into an alcoholic haze, the girl begins to withdraw. A new friend and her employer keep reaching out to her and, to her credit, she hangs on to the ropes they throw. When Mercy's mother is hospitalized for her depression and her aunt's boyfriend returns, Mercy finds the strength to stand up to him. The novel deals with issues of poverty, depression, suicide, molestation, and alcoholism with delicacy, but without glossing over the harsh realities. Aunt Moo and Pearl are unconventional yet believable. The situations at school, especially when Mercy is interacting with her peers or the school counselor, are painfully realistic. The only weaknesses are in a few minor details, including the bird image of the title that is awkwardly woven into several scenes. Even though there is no Hollywood ending, readers are left with the hope that this family will find ways to rebuild the unit they almost lost.-Lucinda Lockwood, Thomas Haney Secondary School, Maple Ridge, BC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.