A Very Merry Book Birthday: “The Unraveling of Mercy Louis”

Spoiler alert: this is not a book review.  I’m sorry.  It’s more like chatting with you about my sister, Keija, and this book she wrote called “The Unraveling of Mercy Louis.”

Which goes on-sale today, March 10th, from Harper Collins.

Unraveling of Mercy Louis hc c copy

Kirkus gave it a starred review, calling it “a modern Southern gothic with a feminist edge and the tense pacing of a thriller…Beautiful and awful, enraging and sad, atmospheric and page-turning: an accomplished novel.”  The Columbia Daily Tribune and Texas Monthly praised it, as did heaps of others which you can find here.


I don’t want to go too deep into plot summary, but “The Unraveling of Mercy Louis” takes place in the fictional Texas refinery town of Port Sabine.  Mercy Louis is the star basketball player, abandoned by her drug-addict mother, raised by her evangelical grandmother, and worshiped by most of the town, especially Illa Stark, the diminutive but mighty team manager.  No one, of course, is truly there for Mercy for the right reasons.  Not her best friend, Annie, nor by her beloved coach.  There is a mystery at the opening of the book that sets the tone and with each page, the tension ratchets up a notch reaching an almost unbearable state until suddenly it’s over and you’re weeping in your closet at midnight, trying not to wake up your husband.

“The Unraveling of Mercy Louis” is about being a girl.  Underneath the beautiful, glorious drama of the story, you realize, hey, it’s about being a girl.  A girl in high school.  That ultimate public spectacle.  It’s also about mothers and daughters – not just with Mercy and the missing mother, Charmaine, but with Illa and her emotionally lost mother – and friendship and what it means to be family.

Keija tackles tough issues, but I never felt manipulated.  Mercy’s story always came shining through, and Keija’s language is a different language than you and I speak.  It is beyond rich, like the red velvet cake you got for your birthday.  You want to shove that whole cake in your mouth, but you should really consider eating it slowly because it is that much better.

My final thought on “The Unraveling of Mercy Louis” is that Keija captured high school so, so well.  Too well.  The fear, the isolation, the self-doubt, the self-hate, but also the joys, the laughter, the jokes, the banter.  And I loved her portrayal of basketball, the sheer joy of the sport.  Keija played varsity basketball in high school and it was a huge love of hers.  Every time Mercy took the court, I pictured Keija.  I couldn’t help it.  Mercy’s team was Keija’s team.  I remember those girls.

But before high school and before writing her second novel, I remember this too…



If you’re friends with me on Facebook (seriously, why aren’t you friends with me on Facebook yet?), then you have been bombarded with daily updates about the latest reviews and happenings with “Mercy Louis.”  This comes with the territory of being a sister.  Because to sell a book these days, extra efforts need to be made.  Books are not just marketed by the publishing houses, they are marketed by the author and the author’s mom and dad and sister and brother and middle school English teacher and that dude she befriended on the plane.

I have been working with the very beating heart of the blogging world, Alexandra Rosas of Good Day, Regular People, to create a Blog Tour for “Mercy Louis” and Alexandra helped me create the Dynamite Dozen, a line-up of 12 outstanding bloggers who all had one thing in common: they loved books.  They kindly agreed to received an advanced readers copy of “Mercy Louis” and write an honest review.  Guys?  Reading a book and writing about it takes time and I want to thank these ladies for their generosity.  They have done an outstanding job and I find myself nodding and remembering and saying, “OMG, I loved that part!” with each review I read.

We are a little over half-way through the Blog Tour, but it is not too late for you to hop on this party wagon and enter all the giveaways!  We are giving away a dozen copies of “The Unraveling of Mercy Louis!”  And since you know it’s your next book club pick, why don’t you get it for free NOW!  If you somehow miss the Blog Tour, you can buy this amazing book at any bookstore, but click HERE to support one of the great independent stores and the copy you order will be signed – how cool is that?


Andrea Casarsa – Maybe It’s Just Me
Greta Funk – GFunkified
Julie Gardner – Julie C. Gardner
Rita Arens –  Surrender Dorothy
Alexandra Rosas – Good Day, Regular People
Tracy Morrison – Sellabit Mum
Ann Imig – Ann’s Rants
Nicole Leigh Shaw – Nicole Leigh Shaw
Still to come:
Wed 3/11:  Alison Lee – Writing, Wishing
Tuesday 3/12: Andrea Bates – Good Girl Gone Redneck
Friday 3/13:  Nancy Davis Kho – Midlife Mixtape
*****Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of “The Unraveling of Mercy Louis!”  Winner will be chosen one week from today on March 17th.*****

A Few Words From Your Memory Foam Mattress

While you've been getting the best sleep of your life, these last 15 years have a been a nightmare for me. You bought me when you were 25 with your first big bonus - ooooh, look at me, what an investment! - and then you treated me like the fucking futon from your college dorm.  Your ...

Continue Reading »

Motherhood Broke My Body

Here we are, winter break, a time to really kick back and enjoy the beauty of February.  For all of you on the East Coast or other bleak, frigid places, my condolences. Today, I have written a piece that was picked up by Scary Mommy.  You know Scary ...

Continue Reading »

Poodles of the Serengeti

In the Gary Larson Far Side cartoon of my life as a mother, dawn breaks on the serengeti in an explosion of chaos, running, and screaming.  The lions are chasing the poodle again, which is a hassle because the poodle has to get the lions fed, ...

Continue Reading »

How To Find Your Sense of Humor

1.  Determine if it is even missing.  Do the whoopee cushion litmus test. 2.  Try to remember when you last had it.  New York, 2002, that place on Union Square? 3.  Smash your funny bone on the car door. 4.  Spend an evening on the Twitter ouija board, hoping for something, anything, to come to you. 5. Do more ...

Continue Reading »


I think of it all the time.  Every day.  Every hour. I think: when we're reunited, I'll dress it up.  Lots of layers and gauzy feelings.   No - I will strip it down to it's shining gold heart of truth.  Yes, I'll dress it up and then strip it down. It is the water I look ...

Continue Reading »

The Cliffs of Transition

Today is my younger son's third birthday. He is the king and I am the storyteller (and cook, feeder, bather, dresser).  I have endured one thousand and ninety five nights of mostly bad sleep and, like Scheherazade, just want to live another day.  My more elaborate survival plan involves the introduction to THE BIG BOY BED, ...

Continue Reading »