In Place of Never by Julie Anne Lindsey (2016)
YA Fiction | Contemporary | Romance | MysteryBlurb:
“Can the truth set her free?…
A part of Mercy died the summer her sister tragically drowned. Now Mercy has a chance to discover if Faith’s death was an accident—or murder. Her first step is to confront the lead suspects: a band of traveling gypsies—the last people who saw her sister alive. But Mercy finds an unexpected ally in Cross, the soulful musician in their ranks. He’s a kindred spirit, someone who sees into her heart for the first time in, well, forever. Yet stirring up the past puts Mercy in danger…
Suddenly someone is shadowing Mercy’s every move, making her even more determined to uncover the facts. With Cross by her side, she is ready to face it all, even if that means opening up to him, knowing he may one day leave her. What she discovers is a truth that rocks the foundation of her small river town—and a love worth risking everything for….”
Expected Publication Date: February 2, 2016
pooled ink Review:
Any story including Roma, gypsies, travelers, it instantly has me on board. It’s just a culture that has fascinated me since I was a kid for who knows what reason. So yeah, I requested this book and was eager to read it.
I expected…I’m not quite sure what I expected. I suppose I expected some sadness, some mystery, some romance…I don’t know what I expected. After having read this book I can tell you that there is sadness, and mystery, and romance…but there is so much more to it than that.
This book follows Mercy who is still coping with the drowning of her older sister Faith and the suicide of her mother. Her family has sunk into a bubble of isolation each dealing with their loss differently. It’s been three years since their losses but the Porter family can’t seem to surface from their grief. Then one day something happens, and then another, and slowly piece by piece Mercy finds herself again pulling her family up with her.
At one point I definitely thought “Footloose” because, I mean, look at the similarities: small country town, young girl dies, preacher father turns the town against gypsies filling himself with hate fire as his outlet for grief, preacher’s daughter falls in love with forbidden outsider, etcetera. But nope, this book takes it much further than that ever so fun musical/movie (sorry Kevin Bacon). Tough to swallow sometimes, and more than once I almost stopped thinking I’d rather opt for a Netflix comedy instead but I kept going, kept reading, kept going on this journey with Mercy.
The plot was quite good splitting its time between searching for the truth of Faith’s death and watching Mercy come back to life (accompanied by a handsome dark stranger I might add). Although the tone never left too far from the great sadness within the characters from Faith’s death it still managed to make me smile as the story coaxed me along.
At first I almost wanted to roll my eyes at the stereotypical Hell fire preacher, also because I was afraid that this book would start putting down religion and it irritates me to no end when people do that. But it was just hid way of grieving (not that that excuses him) and faith stayed in their hearts, both the healed and the wounded. I found the unyielding faith within Mercy admirable.
Faith never left Mercy.
I will also go ahead and mention that the Roma culture was never mocked or parodied (well unless you count the angry townsfolk, but I’m talking about the author). It gave subtle insights and glimpses into their lifestyle and that’s all. No turning them into caricatures or clowns.
Mercy is an interesting protagonist. She’s strong, smart, determined, and funny. But even such a beautiful person may not be whole and add on the society induced pressures of being the preacher’s daughter and her strength shines even more amazing. She’s “damaged” as she calls herself. Damaged perhaps, but not broken. She underwent a lot over the past three years, much of it self-destructive, but it was unraveled in a way that didn’t make fun of the real pain people go through. If anything this book made sure to speak clearly about pain and illness not shying away from the taboo of it but not making light of it either.
Cross, the young man traveling with the gypsies, or Roma, was a humanly perfect character (at least from my POV). Cross is handsome, edgy, a feminist, has a warm beautiful heart, and he can sing? Yep. I agree wholeheartedly with the creation of this character. He played a vital role in Mercy finding life again but not because she needed him, not because he “fixed” her, and not because he “changed” her. He simply saw her for her true self and gave a space to be free. A space to be damaged or whole or sad or happy or struggling or strong. She was free to be who she was and to feel how she felt and it is through this vital space of non-judgmental freedom that allowed her to begin healing herself. She found purpose and sought closure, she reignited with her little sister, she fought for her dad, and she opened her heart to falling in love.
In Place of Never is a heart-tugging story of loss, grief, hope, healing, and romance. It explores prejudices, pain, family, and faith. Sharing a story that cries out with pain and yet never loses this hesitant feeling of relief and hope. It dips into depths of darkness and reaches forwards towards healing. A beautifully written book.
Don’t be ashamed of these. Scars are proof of healing. Scars say you survived. -Cross
P.S. Any guys out there looking for a guide on how to treat women should read this book and pay attention to Cross. There surely cannot be many ladies who won’t swoon at his respect and chivalry. A gentleman with an edge.
Purchase here: In Place of Never
Meet Julie Anne Lindsey!
I tell stories, mostly to my children, sometimes to strangers. I’m fandom obsessed, over-excitable, addicted to social media, caffeine and Poptarts. You can find me online anytime lurking around the Internet, amped up on sugar and wielding a book.