One of the girls in our book club had experienced this self-injury in her life and she couldn't put the book down! We are trying to learn how to understand and extend the love of Jesus to those who enter our church and are hurting in so many ways we have never experienced ourselves. Nancy Rue teaches through stories that have taught us even more about God's Mercy and Grace.
Kirsten is a normal girl on the outside, but she is slowly dying on the inside. An accident in her family has broken how she sees herself, her family, and God; and the only way she feels anything at all is by carving tiny lines into her skin. Despite the physical pain that comes from such actions, the emotional pain she is suffering far outweighs a little blood she draws from time to time. Feeling guilt from the past and thinking she can do nothing to change her life, she tries in vain to ease the pain that is threatening to overwhelm and overtake her.
Now at twenty-three years old, she still fights the demons of her past. Her boyfriend of several years provides somewhat of a crutch for her, but when she discovers he is seeing her best friend, her world comes crashing down around her. She does what she knows will ease the pain - a knife, a little line, a little blood, and a little guilt eased temporally. But this time the line isn't so little, and this time someone sees her. She lands in the psych ward because it is believed she tried to kill herself.
Knowing she has gone too far this time, Kirsten takes her pastor's suggestion to go to a sheep ranch that has a treatment program for people like her. But no matter what she does or where she goes, she cannot escape from the pain and guilt of her past. Will she ever find the redeeming grace and forgiveness everyone talks about but seems to elude her? And will she ever be able to forgive herself for what she has done?
If you have ever done anything in your past that you can't forgive yourself for, you will certainly empathize with Kirsten and understand how she got to the point of cutting herself. While this book is directed more for the YA group, I think that readers of any age (not children, of course) will benefit from reading this novel. Cutting is not something that we know a lot about as a society, and unless it affects us in some way, it's one of the issues that gets swept under the rug. Forgiveness is a simple thing, freeing and liberating in nature. But forgiving yourself is the hardest thing to do sometimes, as Kirsten learns and experiences firsthand.
This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for free in exchange for an honest review.
Kirstin's life is complicated. Actually, it's more than that. It hurts. She has a boyfriend who's making her second-guess her convictions, parents for whom she can never be good enough, and constant reminders that she's at least partly responsible for a terrible tragedy that still haunts her years after it happened. She's overwhelmed by life, and she cuts herself. The pain distracts her from the storms in her life, while also giving her a sense of control. But then she accidentally goes too far and finds herself in a psychiatric hospital under the supervision of people who believe she's trying to end her life. The only way out is by staying on a ranch owned by Sister Frankie, a retired nun, and helping take care of Frankie's sheep. The ranch is home to other people weathering other unimaginable hurt. But Kirsten is on the ranch for a reason, and although her physical and emotional scars run deep, they're not to deep to be redeemed by mercy.
The Merciful Scar is a serious story, showing readers not only Kirsten's wounds, but the wounds of others she encounters. Kirsten deals with her pain by self-injuring. Because of this, some of the scenes made me cringe and want to cover my eyes. But Kirsten is so real that I cared about her too much to leave her in the middle of her darkest moments. Faith plays a huge role in the story, but the book is never preachy. Even if you're like me and can't relate to everything Kirsten goes through, I'm guessing you've still had moments when you felt helpless and maybe even hopeless. Maybe, like Kirsten, your scars run deep. This book shows that, yes, life can be inexplicably hard, but like Sister Frankie so beautifully shows Kirsten on the ranch, we have a Good Shepherd who carries us and loves us. This book is powerful. It'll make you cry, smile, and cry while you smile. It's a story of redemption, healing, and Mercy strong enough to rebuild a broken life.
**Kirsten is in her young twenties, so this book is a good read for college students. Although some of the big issues in the book are handled well, I recommend this story for people in their late teens or older.
Rebecca St. James is an inspirational singer, writer, and actress (Sarah's Choice, 2009). I looked forward to seeing her collaborate on this novel. Nancy Rue holds a very dear place in my heart, and will always be one of my very favorite authors. Her books for tweens made me fall in love with reading and I firmly believe my love of story-telling stems from the connection I felt with her books as a middle-school girl. There was something so relatableâ€”so realâ€”about those books that inspired me to live for Jesus and be who I was made to be. Those books still sit on my shelf, and although I've read them countless times, I still flip through them every now and then. I love her adult books, too, and I'm thrilled to add The Merciful Scar to my collection.
When an accident strikes, fracturing her family, Kirsten turns to cutting herself to relieve the pain she feels. The cutting continues and eight years later she finds that her long-time boyfriend has been secretly seeing her friend. Kirsten cuts herself to get rid of the pain but this time the cut goes deeper then she wanted. Kirsten ends up in a Phys. Hospital and her Pastor suggests she goes to a work ranch where they have a treatment program he hopes will help.
When Kirsten goes she slowly learns how to heal....
Pros: I loved the story line! I was caught up in Kirsten's world and saw what it's like for a person who is in depression to go through cutting herself to relieve the pain. The story was fast paced, and sometimes very hard to put down! I become "friends" with the characters, and Rebecca ST. James and Nancy Rue really wrote the story well!
Cons: Sometimes the story dragged a little, and I wished it ended a little differently (the ending was a little abrupt for me), but other then that no other cons.
Bad stuff to consider: Kissing (not describe), Kirsten cutting herself for pain relief, Kirsten's ex boyfriend mentioned sleeping together but Kirsten stands up saying no, she won't do it, and nothing more is said about that. Kirsten's ex boyfriend get's her friend pregnant and abortion is mentioned.
I really enjoyed the story! I had a bad cold the day I got the book in the mail, and all I wanted to do was lay around so this book was awesome to read during that day! Totally something to consider reading!
Note to ya'll: I got this free from booksneeze, and was required to do a book review on receiving this book, but all thoughts in this review were my own.
Nancy Rue and Rebecca St. James have written a beautiful novel, one that mines the depths of human emotion while celebrating the triumph of mercy and God's grace. When I first picked up "The Merciful Scar", I was not entirely sure what to expect. I knew a book featuring a character who engaged in self injury to release her pain was a subject that may, at times, disturb me - and at times I was right. Cutting is a subject I deal with in my job all the time, and it can be difficult to watch people cope with their pain in that manner. However, I wasn't expecting to meet a character that not only made my heart hurt, but actually made me laugh out loud on occasion as well! Kirsten Petersen is one of those characters who steps off the page within seconds of being introduced to them, and I found the book impossible to put down because I simply had to see what would happen next. I loved Kirsten's inner voice, which she refers to as "Nudnik", a voice that seemed all too similar to the one that speaks in my own head sometimes, and one that provided for some hilarious commentary on Kirsten's life. The cast of support characters are equally wonderful, from Sister Frankie to Frankie's nephew Andy, and they add a lot of life and flavour to the story. The pacing is well done, and the scenes unfold with the sensitivity of skilled writers, unveiling ever more from chapter to chapter and drawing you deeper into the characters lives. Prepare to laugh, and cry, and come away filled with hope at all that God can accomplish.
If you are simply looking for an excellent book, then look no further. But if you are looking for a book that helps you understand why others engage in cutting to deal with pain (or maybe why you yourself struggle with this), then this book is an absolute must-read. Entertaining, insightful, and real, it is a book I plan on picking up again. 5 out of 5 stars.
A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.