Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mercy.

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?

3 comments:

Mere said...

I don't think I could ever be in a relationship unless they loved me a little more than I loved them. Not because I need to be adored for the sake of being adored...but because I am insecure. Hence - I could only find security in knowing someone else loved me slightly more than I loved them. But...I am psycho and not in a relationship....

natalie said...

I think that the ratio is ever-changing and is dependent upon what life stages and obstacles you are in and faced with. Such as, pregnancy - this is a time in my relationship is definitely 70/30 in favor of Philip. A woman needs to be taken care emotionally and sometimes physically while incubating another human. I know when Philip donated his kidney, I felt it was 80/20, with me definitely giving more. I think in any good relationship love for the other will ebb and flow - you always love that person, but, at times, the levels are different. Lately, I know he has had to find it in his heart to love me more as I deal with miscarriage and trying to decide to about having another baby. Things will change - he is coming to a crossroads in his job and I know he will be distracted from our relationship for a bit - and that is fine.

Finding Me said...

My mom said something smart when I got married. To expect your marriage to always be 50/50 is unrealistic. There will be times when you give more and times when your husband/significant other gives more. But it's in the long run that it should even out to be 50/50 and if it doesn't then you need to talk.

And to me that makes since, both in marriages and in other relationships. There are sooo many times when my brother/sister love me more than I love them or vice versa. But, we know in the long run our love is equal...but now I'm rambling.

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