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The Mercy Ruleby Perri Klass
Synopses & Reviews
At first glance, Dr. Lucy Weiss looks like the typical high-achieving, upper-middle-class working mother who, along with her husband, is bringing up much-beloved children in a world of Saturday morning soccer, private-school teacher conferences, and hyperaggressive classroom mommies. But Lucys own history makes her an anomaly. Having overcome a difficult childhood in foster care, she is whats called a super-survivor, a kid who grew up in the margins. Now a pediatrician, Lucy finds herself working with some of these same at-risk patients and their families.
The Mercy Rule is a novel about the all-important job of taking care of children. Lucys work takes her back into the world of families living on the edge, where every day she must decide whether parents actions are so incompetent—or so flaky—that their children are in danger. Its her job to make the call and to step in when she has to. As she moves between her disparate worlds—from worrying about her own brilliant but odd son being labeled with a diagnosis to worrying about parents struggling with drugs and impossible living situations—Lucy must judge herself as a parent, critique other parents, and also deal with the echoes of her childhood.
Watching Lucy try to keep the balance, enjoy her own children, and look at other families with humor and justice and mercy, readers will understand why Chris Bohjalian said of Perri Klass, Few writers write as beautifully or as authentically about parenting.”
"Klass (Treatment Kind and Fair) again explores the dramas, large and small, of parenting and medicine in an enjoyable if nearly plotless novel. A former foster child who was adopted by her sixth-grade teacher, Lucy Weiss is a pediatrician at a clinic specializing in foster kids. Lucy's deep (and occasionally unprofessional) devotion to her work brings her into contact and conflict with mothers like charismatic Delia, who eventually abandons her three kids — each named after one of the Von Trapp children. In Lucy's own family, her somewhat absent professor husband begs off of birthday party and soccer duties, leaving her as primary parent to precocious 10-year-old Isabel and possibly autistic six-year-old Freddy. Freddy's difficulties (an obsession with statistics and numbers, and stunted social abilities among them) are a recurring but unresolved thread, while an ethically questionable decision Lucy makes regarding Delia's kids lacks punch. The characters are wonderfully drawn — Lucy's angst is palpable throughout — and though there isn't much of a story arc, the heartfelt portrayal of contemporary parenting is involving, particularly so for readers who work with children. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Perri Klass is a practicing pediatrician who understands the murky risks of judging a mother's care. "The Mercy Rule," her sixth work of fiction, is an insightful novel comprised of stories about a doctor who runs a clinic in Boston for children who are in state custody — or about to be. Passionate and self-deprecating, Dr. Lucy Weiss wants to slap some sense into the careless mothers who pass through... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) her office, but she also wants to hug them and give them extra diapers. One in particular, an infuriating woman who appears in several stories, pulls at her sympathies: "There is something about Delia — sometimes she makes me think of my child self, lost in the world and waiting to be saved, and sometimes it is her children who remind me of that self, and all in all, it makes me crazy that I am going to be the one to do what I am going to have to do: report her for neglect, for incompetence, for being Delia." Equally poignant and often witty are Lucy's reflections on her role as mother to a confident daughter and an odd little son she's determined to protect from the pettiness of the world. When she's not swearing to withdraw from the competition among wealthy parents, she fantasizes about beating them at their own game. As a doctor, Klass must know the body inside and out; these stories show that, as a writer, she knows the heart and soul just as well. Reviewed by Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
At first glance, Dr. LucyWeiss looks like a typical high-achieving, upper-middle-class working mother who is raising two children in the suburbs with her husband. But having overcome a difficult childhood in foster care, Lucy knows firsthand what it is like to grow up in the margins. Now a pediatrician, she finds herself working with at-risk patients and their families. Every day she must decide whether a parents actions are so incompetent — or so clueless — that a child is in danger. As she moves between her disparate worlds — from worrying about her own daughter enduring the social pressures of adolescence to worrying about parents struggling with drugs and impossible living situations — Lucy must judge herself as a parent, critique other parents, and also deal with the echoes of her childhood.Through it all, she keeps the balance with humor and sympathy. The Mercy Rule is a compassionate and funny novel sure to resonate with those who know the joys and challenges of taking care of children.
About the Author
DR. PERRI KLASS is the award-winning author of eleven works of fiction and nonfiction, including Love and Modern Medicine and Other Women's Children. She is a pediatrician and teaches journalism and pediatrics at New York University. Klass is also the medical director of the national literacy program Reach Out and Read, dedicated to promoting literacy as part of pediatric primary care. She lives in New York.
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