#30Authors: Heather Brittain Bergstrom talks about The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen

#30Authors Happening Now 1

Hey readers of Traveling With T! Today, I’m taking part in a super-fun month long event headed up by The Book Wheel called #30Authors.

Want to know what #30Authors is all about?

#30Authors is an annual event connecting readers, authors, and bloggers. Throughout the month of September, 30 authors review their favorite books on 30 blogs in 30 days. The event has been met with incredible support from and success within the literary community. In the six months following the event’s inaugural launch, the concept was published as an anthology by Velvet Morning Press (Legacy: An Anthology). Started by The Book Wheel, #30Authors remains active throughout the year and you can join in the fun by following along on Twitter at @30Authors, using the hashtag, #30Authors, or purchasing the anthology. To learn more about the event and to see the full schedule, please click here.


As part of my post for #30Authors, I have author Heather Brittain Bergstrom, STEAL THE NORTH, to talk about the book THE UNRAVELING OF MERCY LOUIS by Keija Parssinen.

Now, Heather can take it away!

Heather Brittain Bergstrom on The Unraveling of Mercy Louis

Keija Parssinen’s second novel, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, is many things: a mystery; a searing look at adolescent girls with all their drama and tragedy, faults and courage; a haunting atmospheric southern tale; a touching coming-of-age story; a love story; an environmental outcry; and, last but not least, a brilliant modern remake of the Salem Witch Trials (or Arthur Miller’s famous play The Crucible). How does Parssinen manage to do all this in a little over three hundred pages? With grace, with skill, with heart.

Torn between the grownups who have raised and shaped her, for better or worse, but who expect nothing short of perfection, and the boy who loves her as much for her faults as her strengths, Mercy Louis, the protagonist, struggles to stay on top of her game—in life and on the basketball court.

Writing scenes rich in southern lore and grit, and in keeping with a long line of strong southern female fiction writers– Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Harper Lee, to name the greats—Keija Parssinen takes her rightful place on a stage whose swamps and droopy trees, big daddies, and virginity balls, has left a lasting impression on the larger landscape of American literature.

I highly recommend this novel to all lovers of literature and lore, as well as to general readers who simply enjoy a good tale. But be warned: this one comes southern style—complete with roadhouses, swamps, holy rollers, and redemption.

The novel is narrated by two adolescent girls, opposites, or so it seems at first. Mercy is a star athlete, popular, admired, pretty, dedicated. Illa is shy and awkward, an introvert. Their small Texas refinery town is rocked first by an explosion and then by the discovery of a bloody fetus in a garbage can outside a gas station. Suddenly all the girls at the high school are suspect.

More than a dozen times while reading Parssinen’s novel, I came across lines so beautiful or poignant, I had to stop reading, put the book down and contemplate, as one does after reading a poem. Here is one such line: “This must be one of the biggest gifts of love, the process of discovery, finding worlds upon worlds inside the other person, his soul a hall of mirrors stretching inward forever.” Another example, more stark: “The truth is like fish. When people ask for it, they usually don’t want it eyes and all.”

This is a novel not to be missed: provocative and affirming.


About Heather Brittain Bergstrom:

heather bb author pic

Photo Credit: Heather’s website

​Heather Brittain Bergstrom’s debut novel, Steal the North, was published by Penguin/Viking in 2014 and was featured by Booklist as a Top Ten First Novels: 2014. She has won fiction awards from The Atlantic Monthly, The Chicago Tribune, Narrative Magazine, and others, and a story was named a distinguished and notable story for The Best American Short Stories in 2010. Her short fiction has been published in several literary journals and anthologies. She holds an MFA in creative Writing. She is from eastern Washington and now resides in northern California.

STEAL THE NORTH can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Connect with Heather: Facebook, Goodreads, Website.

After reading Heather’s thoughts on THE UNRAVELING OF MERCY LOUIS- you want to buy a copy, right? I thought so.

THE UNRAVELING OF MERCY LOUIS can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

keija author pic

Photo Credit: Shane Epping

To find out more about Keija, please check out her website.


And- of course, there is a giveaway! Thanks to Allison at The Book Wheel’s tireless efforts as well as the great authors- there is a nice giveaway. Go check it out!


Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,

T @ Traveling With T

T Traveling With T pic sign off

14 thoughts on “#30Authors: Heather Brittain Bergstrom talks about The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen

  1. I like the quote about the biggest gifts of love!

    I honestly can’t remember when last I’ve read Southern fiction and it is maybe something I should explore more! Coming of age stories used to be one of my favourite things to read about…

  2. ebookclassics says:

    I haven’t heard of this book, but the setting and characters make the story sound very intriguing. I don’t think I’ve a lot of Southern fiction either, unless Gone With the Wind counts.

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