Book Review: The Merciful Scar

25 Apr

689223Kirsten has spent her life trying to forget. But mercy begs her to remember.

When she was in high school, a terrible accident fractured her family, and the only relief Kirsten could find was carving tiny lines into her skin, burying her pain in her flesh. The pain she caused herself was neat and manageable compared to the emotional pain that raged inside.

She was coping. Or so she thought.

But then, eight years later, on the night she expects her long-time boyfriend to propose, Kirsten learns he’s been secretly seeing her best friend. Desperate to escape her feelings, she reaches for the one thing that gives her a sense of control in the midst of chaos.

But this time the cut isn’t so tiny, and it lands her in the psych hospital. Within hours of being there she knows she can’t stay—she isn’t crazy, after all. But she can’t go back to the life she knew before either.

So when her pastor mentions a treatment program on a working ranch, Kirsten decides to take him up on the offer and get away from it all. But the one thing she can’t escape is herself—and her shame.

The ranch is home to a motley crew, each with a lesson to teach. Ever so slowly, Kirsten opens herself to embrace healing—even the scarred places that hurt the most. Mercy begs her to remember the past . . . showing her there’s nothing that cannot be redeemed.


UnknownRebecca St. James is a Christian pop rock singer, songwriter, musician, author, and actress. She began performing in Australia in the late 1980s and released her first full-length studio album in 1991.

Unknown-1Nancy Rue is an American Christian novelist, writing for tweens and adults. She is known for the Lily Series of novels featuring 12-year-old Lily Robbins. She is also known for the Sophie series.




My Impressions:

The Merciful Scar by Rebecca St. James and Nancy Rue is what some would call New Adult Fiction (the target audience is 18-24 year olds and the subject matter is adult in nature). However, my church book club, Page Turners, chose it for our April discussion based upon a radio interview of Rebecca St. James that one of our members heard. And though our youngest member is almost 20 years above the target audience and the rest of us are considerably more senior than that, we thoroughly enjoyed the novel. Well-written, with complex characters and situations, it definitely opened our eyes to the realities of cutting.

Kirsten is a graduate student with a secret. Her well-covered body does not disclose the cutting she has been doing for years. The physical scars may be hidden, but it is the emotional ones that come out when she has an accident during a cutting episode. Involuntarily admitted to the hospital for a supposed suicide attempt, Kirsten is desperate to get out and to get on with the rest of her life. The only way out is to agree to a 30-day treatment with a former Anglican nun as counselor/spiritual advisor. The ranch and its way of life seem alien to Kirsten, but soon its rhythms and the ways of God become part of her.

Though Kirsten is a self-injurer (cutter), other characters face deep emotional trauma. Guilt and forgiveness are major themes in the novel. Most of our members found the first part of the book hard to get into, but when Kirsten arrives at the ranch, the story really took off and took hold. We found the metaphors of the sheep and shepherd touching and insightful.  The characters were easy to connect with and we cared about what was going on in their lives. And there were a few scenes that brought tears. It also brought from us a deep discussion of past experiences and the hope that God can give to His people. Moving and thought-provoking, The Merciful Scar is one we heartily recommend.

Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs (especially young women)

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To purchase this book, click on the image below.

8 Responses to “Book Review: The Merciful Scar”

  1. Amy @ Hope Is the Word April 26, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Sounds good. I didn’t realize St. James had turned to writing. Thanks for the review.

    • rbclibrary April 26, 2014 at 11:57 am #

      Not sure how much of the writing was St. James and how much was Rue, but the collaboration was very good. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. semicolonsherry April 26, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    I think I would like to read this one. We all have such a problem, manifested in different ways, with accepting

  3. semicolonsherry April 26, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    (didn’t finish) accepting grace.

    • rbclibrary April 26, 2014 at 11:56 am #

      This was a really good story. I was surprised how all of us “oldsters” enjoyed it! 😉

  4. Susanne April 26, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    I read this book and loved it. And I am well, well above the targeted audience and still got a lot out it!

    • rbclibrary April 26, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

      Me too, on the target audience! I really liked it. I am reading Defy The Night by Heather and Lydia Munn. It is labeled historical, but I am thinking it would really appeal to young adults. I love when books transcend their genre/target audience.


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