“When someone we love has a terminal illness, we hate to see them in pain. Yet we don’t want to lose them either, so we’ll try most anything to help them survive and to even be cured. But what if the person is tired and wants to end the days and nights of suffering? Whose wishes do we honor? Ours? Or theirs?
Author Lisa Albert’s debut young adult novel, Mercy Lily, is a gentle story about a girl named Lily and her mother, Sophia, who has multiple sclerosis. Traditional treatment hasn’t helped Sophia, so to ease her pain, she tries bee sting therapy. Since Lily was an eighth grader, she has treated her mother, a veterarian who taught Lily to be her helper. Now Lily is a sophomore in high school and her mother’s condition is getting worse. Lily watched her father lose his battle with cancer and cannot bear the thought of losing her mother as well. The author describes the treatment in detail which I found interesting since I knew nothing about it. But then Sophia asks the unthinkable of Lily. For one so young, she has tough decisions to make, not only about her mother’s wish for mercy, but also about her feelings for Trent (possible boyfriend) and her relationship with her friends that has grown distant. Life has changed for all of them.
Mercy Lily is a story of love and family, courage and fear, hope and heartbreak, and also of acceptance. I’m not sure how I feel about the choice Sophia makes, but the author handles the situation with sensitivity. I wanted to hug Lily and tell her all would be okay, but I knew it wouldn’t. From now on, when I see a Lily flower, I’ll remember the story of Lily, a brave young woman who faced what life handed her with a strength that even she did not realize she had. Lisa Albert’s novel would make a great addition for school libraries and classrooms where students might be experiencing a situation similar to Lily’s. And of course you’ll want a copy for your own library.