Anyone who knows me, knows I love to read. And ever since discovering My Sister's Keeper several years ago, I've become a mostly devoted Jodi Picoult follower. I've read quite a few of her books, to varying degrees of entertainment and satisfaction. On the list of books I've read you'll find Nineteen Minutes, The Tenth Circle, Vanishing Acts, The Pact, Picture Perfect, Harvesting the Heart and, most recently, Mercy. What I like about Picoult's novels is that the characters are always engaging and the stories tend to revolve around current events and front-page topics, such as school shootings, suicide pacts, modern day marriage, and (in Mercy) assisted suicide. What I find disappointing about some of her books is the endings that fall flat.
I just finished Mercy. I originally bought it when I was almost due with Luca (so, over a year ago), with the intention of reading it while in the hospital. That SO didn't happen...shit, I barely brushed my hair while in the hospital with Luca, much less read. So then I thought I could read it during maternity leave. Instead, it collected dust next to the stack of chick flicks I had timed perfectly to come through my Blockbuster Queue when maternity leave started. Instead of reading for fun and watching movies, I obsessed over books on babies and breastfeeding, and the only shows I ever had time to watch were the 3 a.m. episodes of 'A Baby Story' and 'House of Babies'.
Mercy is a story with 5 main characters. There's a small town sheriff, his flower-shop owner wife, a newcomer to town, and his recently dearly departed....who was killed by her husband...and a woman who drifts into town and starts working for the flower shop owner. I'm not giving anything away by saying the newcomer killed his wife, but I don't want to get into the details of the why and the how, lest I ruin the plotline for anyone interested in reading it. Instead, I want to talk about the underlying theme of this particular novel: love, and the depths with which people in a marriage love one another. There's one particular part of the story where the accused killer and the sheriff's wife are discussing love and marriage, and the accused killer says, "You know it's never fifty-fifty in a marriage. It's always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride."
I thought a lot about this statement as I read this book...because it is about the lengths people would go for love, and the depths to which we sink sometimes and almost destroy that love. It's about the difference between loving too much and not loving enough...about how far love will drive people...whether it's driving them together or driving them apart. And it took me awhile to get into this book enough to see that this is what the story was really about: the balance of love. The trade offs people willingly make, the things we accept or reject in the name of holding onto love; or of holding onto our image of love.
I'd love to hear what other people think of this topic, but I don't expect anyone to chime in. It's something to think about though: is your love 50/50? 40/60? 90/10? Who comes out on top, and why? Are you ok with that? Is your significant other?
What is the weight and the depth and the quality of your love? And what can you do to make it more equal, deeper, richer? Are you willing?