Mercy is a middle child, born and raised in 1960s Bradford amongst the woollen mills. Home is a draughty dark stone Victorian terraced house on a street called Hill View. Back Home is lush, green Jamaica where four of Mercy’s elder siblings still live and where you can eat avocado pear and star apple. Mercy knows the word for when people go on and on about stuff in the past, and Mummy and Daddy are at their happiest when they are reminiscing about Jamaica. But in the house on the hill, Mercy’s sisters Ruby, (Evil) Evie and Wet-a-bed-Janie are as much a thorn in her side as anything else. Not to mention her spoilt baby brother Devon, Mummy’s precious ‘One Bwoy Pickney’. The nearest thing Mercy has to a best friend is her neighbour Joy, but her real confidant is ‘Dolly’, plastic and inanimate.
Mercy is devoted to her mother, but Mummy is a fundamentalist Christian and to all appearances her own worst enemy. Daddy is a dangerous, threatening presence (except when he’s shimmying to My Boy Lollipop at one of his Big People’s Parties in the cellar living room), who doesn’t seem to like Mercy, let alone love her. As her parents’ marriage collapses, so too do the safe walls of Mercy’s childhood, and she starts to seek refuge at school or at the library. Although as Mummy always tells her, she really needs God’s learning rather than all that ‘book-learning’.
But one night Daddy doesn’t like the expression on Mercy’s face. One night he throws her against a wall. And something changes. The next time Mummy kicks him out, he brings a machete to the house. Mummy drops to her knees and recites a psalm, but Mercy stares him down. Although Mercy may only own one volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica (the letter R and the first part of the letter S), she has learned things and she is convinced that the way Daddy treats Mummy isn’t right. She cannot understand the actions of her parents because they barely understand themselves. But if she can’t save her mother, she can try and save herself…Request more information