Mercy Come Morning

Mercy Come Morning - Lisa Tawn Bergren Imagine growing up as an only child, never really knowing your father and having an older mother with an undiagnosed mental illness. Fast forward a few years and your mother is beginning to show signs of Alzheimer's and you're in college. You do the best that you can but as the disease progresses and your studies continue you realize you can’t do it by yourself and you don’t want to for much longer. Fast forward a few more years and now your mom has congestive heart disease and is dying. You haven't visited in a few years but now you have to go for one last visit. This is the premise of Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren.

Krista Mueller is now in her late thirties and a college history professor. She has left all that is familiar from New Mexico behind, including her mother, as she tries to make a life for herself in Colorado. She's comfortable with her life until she receives the phone call stating that her mother is dying. Krista realizes that there are unresolved emotions with regard to her mother. She felt that her mother never loved her and left her alone to fend for herself and was hypercritical of her with respect to her dancing skills. The last thing Krista wants to do is return to New Mexico but she knows that she must.
As Krista tries to resolve her feelings about her mother, she must also confront her feelings about Dr. Dane McConnell. Dane is a childhood friend, her first true love and the director of the nursing home that cares for her mother. She also has a surrogate mother in Elena, an old family friend. Krista is someone trying to do the right thing, initially for all the wrong reasons. But as time progresses she realizes that her mother didn't have an easy life and that she tried to do the best she could.
I found most of the characters realistic in their actions if not somewhat flat. Krista comes across initially as a childish and somewhat selfish woman. It's hard to imagine someone in their late thirties being so self-absorbed and spoiled. I also found it somewhat unrealistic to expect that the joy of holiday celebrations is the impetus to get Krista to accept her mother as is and begin to "heal her heart." This seemed a little trite and overly simplistic in my opinion. Mercy Come Morning seems to ultimately be about second chances and acceptance. Krista learns to accept and love her mother with all of her faults. Krista also learns to accept her own personal limitations and the knowledge that she cannot control everything and everyone. The ending was a bit trite but overall this is a decent story about self-discovery, self-acceptance and family . . . especially the necessity to accept our family members as is.