From acclaimed Canadian novelist Billie Livingston comes this powerful U.S. debut that unfolds over a riveting dual narrative—an unforgettable story of ordinary lives rocked by hardship and scandal that follows in the tradition of Jennifer Haigh, A. Manette Ansay, and Jennifer Egan.
Ben wakes up in a hospital with a hole in his head he can't explain. What he can remember he’d rather forget. Like how he’d spend nights as a limo driver for the wealthy and debauched….how he and his wife, Maggie, drifted apart in the wake of an unspeakable tragedy…how his little brother, Cola, got in over his head with loan sharks circling.
Maggie is alone. Again. With bills to pay and Ben in a psych ward, she must return to work. But who would hire her in the state she’s in? And just as Maggie turns to her brother, Francis, the Internet explodes with video of his latest escapade. The headline? Drunk Priest Propositions Cops.
Francis is an unlikely priest with a drinking problem and little interest in celibacy. A third DUI, a looming court date.…When Maggie takes him in, he knows he may be down to his last chance. And his best shot at healing might lie in helping Maggie and Ben reconnect—against all odds.
Simmering with dark humor and piercing insights, The Crooked Heart of Mercy is a startling reminder that redemption can be found in the most unlikely of places.
About the Author
Billie Livingston is the award-winning author of three novels, a collection of short stories, and a poetry collection. Her most recent novel, One Good Hustle, a Globe and Mail Best Book selection, was nominated for the Giller Prize and for the Canadian Library Association’s Young Adult Book Award. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“A stirring meditation on faith, grief, and the eternal human project of forgiving ourselves our sins. It grips the reader’s crooked heart and doesn’t let go.” — Lynn Coady, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of Hellgoing
“Steeped in regret, and filled with longing, The Crooked Heart of Mercy is the poignant story of broken people trying desperately to be whole, lost somewhere between a prayer and a wish. Raw and heartfelt. Remarkable.” — Will Ferguson, Giller Prize-winning author of 419 and Road Trip Rwanda
“The novel echoes with Flannery O’Connor, and Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory... The difference, however, is that Livingston’s take on faith is more compassionate than O’Connor’s and more lighthearted than Greene’s.... The Crooked Heart of Mercy is a gem.” — Washington Independent Review of Books
“In The Crooked Heart of Mercy, her stellar fourth novel... Livingston immediately sets up a pressing question: can these lost souls overcome their tragedy and, if so, how? Tender, quirky, and sporadically quite comic, her answer is fruitful as well as a delight to follow.” — Vancouver Sun
“Livingston avoids cliché and caricature, and is able to investigate the necessity of belief in all its forms without descending into the didactic. She has a real knack for voice, bouncing back and forth... gracefully and believably.” — The Globe and Mail
“Livingston beautifully teases out the bitter humor needed to endure the long shadows of grief. These hearts heal with scar tissue.” — Kirkus Reviews
“[A] nuanced exploration of grief and family loyalty, showing that a happy ending is one where getting through day after day may be the greatest success of all.” — Manhattan Book Review
“From award-winning Canadian novelist Livingston, this is a beautiful and insightful paean to the human spirit and how it can heal.” — Booklist
“Livingston’s searing story, recovery, tenuous as it often is, is hard-earned, a glimpse, with no guarantees, of the price to be paid for renewal…. full of surprises; its well-drawn characters, their close-to-the-edge dilemmas, the ways in which they seek an elusive recuperation, are sharply depicted.” — London Free Press