Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash



Growing up, football was a constant in my life, not only for the lessons I gleaned but also because of the special connection that it allowed between me and my dad. We were good friends, but football was, at times, our way of communicating.

When reading This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash, I couldn't help but associate with twelve-year-old Easter Quillby. Baseball is her game, Sammy Sosa her favorite player, and although her father, Wade Chesterfield, had left her and her younger sister when she was nine, now he’s back, and baseball may be the thing that brings them together. Both are keenly following the 1998 race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire to break Roger Maris' long standing record of sixty-one home runs in a season. But Easter is reluctant to let him back into her life so easily. Wade, a washed-up former semi-pro pitcher, has brought back a lot of baggage — most of it stuffed with stolen money.

The Sosa-McGwire race provides an excellent backdrop for the story and grounds the reader in time.  The baseball analogies are not lost on the non-sport minded readers. But the book is not about baseball.  It is about love and forgiveness and the power of family.

Wiley Cash
 In his first novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, Cash proved his ability to create flawed but endearing characters, and he continues this in This Dark Road to Mercy. Easter and her younger sister, Ruby, who recently lost their mother and are living in a foster home when Wade reenters their lives, will steal readers’ hearts -- Easter with her prepubescent pragmatism and six year old Ruby with her desire to please and be loved. But as he did in A Land More Kind Than Home, it is the father characters, the men who are far from perfect yet prove that they are willing to take care of their own, that won my respect and admiration.

Wade Chesterfield is a loser. He gave up the legal rights to his children and must 'steal' them in the night to be with them. He has no job, no home and no plan. Pruitt, a ruthless hired hitman seeking revenge, is chasing him.  Yet, Wade desperately wants to make things right with his daughters, even though he has placed them in unnecessary danger. To atone for his past, or because he truly loves them? -- that is for each reader to decide. I found myself rooting for Wade; a complex character who did so much wrong trying to be right.

Another father character that Cash introduces us to is Brady Weller. Brady is the court appointed guardian of Easter and Ruby who is trying to find and, in his mind, save them from their father.  He vows to protect the girls, and again the reader is forced to decide whether it is to make up for his own failures or if his motivation is simply about the girls' well-being. Brady has his own demons — he’s struggling with his past and is desperately trying to save his relationship with his own daughter.

With straightforward storytelling, narrative that flows effortlessly and characters that are hard to forget, Wiley Cash has quickly become one of my favorite authors, and I can't wait for his next book. And the next, and the next. 

AND, although I do love the novels by Wiley Cash, I have a bit of a home-girl crush on his brother thanks to this video.  Wiley answers questions about his books---Cliff Cash steals the show! If you watch nothing else today, watch this!



This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash, publication date January 28, 2014. Pre-order your copy now at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookstore.

35 comments:

  1. Wiley Cash is one of my new favorites. I really enjoyed his debut novel and I can't wait to read This Dark Road to Mercy. Thanks for this review, Kelly. I have my book on preorder from a cool, new indy store in Greensboro, NC.

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    1. The book begins in NC, you may find yourself right at home.

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  2. That video was pretty funny. Sounds like a good book to me. I will have to check it out.

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  3. I am not sure that I would have read the book had it not been for your review. And Cliff does steal the show!

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    1. Cliff was so awesome! Looks like a fun guy, right?

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    2. I would love to hang with him!

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  4. Looks like a great book I;ll be sure to read it. Thanks!

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  5. I'll definitely be getting this one.

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    1. Might as well start the year off with a guaranteed good one.

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  6. You have tickled the cat ! Going to check out Wiley. Looks like he has a good story to tell !

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    1. I haven't tickled a cat in a long time...lol

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  7. Haha! Loved the video! Author seems cool!! Doesn't look like we will be reading anything on the steroids within the sport so I may want to read this one :)

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    1. The author is totally cool. And very talented. Hope you enjoy it!

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  8. I like character driven stories and it sounds like this book delivers. I'll check it out!

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    1. Honestly, one of the best I've read in a long time.

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  9. Good review. Made me want to read about the father and his girls.

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    1. Thanks. There was so much I liked about the book, I really had to focus on just a few things. Father-daughter relationships are a soft spot for me.

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  10. Good review, Kelly. I've heard a lot of good things about Wiley Cash's writing--and now all the praise from you--that I should check out his books. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. I feel like I am a tough customer, so it's rare when I like a book as much as I liked this one. Anxious to hear your thoughts.

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  11. I loved Wiley's debut novel, and after reading your review I can tell I am going to love this one as well. Added to my reading list.

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    1. I loved the debut novel, but honestly, I loved this more.

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  12. Loved this review. Wiley's first novel was beautiful and haunting. I can't wait to read his second.

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    1. I read it in one sitting. Honestly couldn't put it down.

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  13. Oh wow. Sounds like a great book. Thanks!

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    1. Great book. You'll appreciate the setting, Erica.

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  14. Can't wait to read it. Wiley's writing is as interesting and inviting as his personality. Excellent author.

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    1. He just seems to tell a story so effortlessly. It's easy to get comfortable with his work.

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  15. After reading this excellent review, I want to read this book and his debut novel as well. I also find myself rooting for the underdog or complex characters in novels, so I'm sure I will root for Wade too. Thanks for the review, Kelly!

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    1. When I read this, I couldn't help but think of all the 'Wades' I've known in my life. He really brought this character to life for me. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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  16. Sounds like a great story with strong characters steeped in everything you hope for: Real people that love yet make mistakes out of desperation. I'm going to order it tomorrow from my local indy bookstore. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Come back and let me know what you think. It's a great book for discussion.

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  17. Sounds enticing. Off to put it on my Goodreads To-Read list. Thanks!

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    1. Beautifully written story, Guilie. Please let me know what you think.

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