Sunday, March 15, 2009

42 - The Mercy Papers: a memoir of three weeks; Robin Romm

After a frustrating weekend and three days without telephone or internet service, I am happy to report the internet is working, but not the phones: 8 technicians, numerous calls on our cell phone, but the mystery of the outage remains.....still a mystery????
Well enough venting and on to my review:

The Mercy Papers: A Memoir of Three Weeks, by Robin Romm was sent to me by Simon & Schuster’s Advisory Board.

I was thrilled to receive this memoir even though the subject is a tough one: Robin Romm's mother’s 9 year battle with cancer. I felt I might be able to relate to this one, especially since I cared for my own mom who died when I was in my 30’s from a short battle (just 11 weeks) with pancreatic cancer.

I suspected that the title had something to do with forgiveness, or mercy in the traditional sense, but I was wrong, “Mercy” was the name of the author’s cattle dog. The memoir follows the last 3 weeks of Jackie Romm’s life after a 9 year battle with breast cancer. She died in 2004 at the still young age of just 56.

The story however, is more than just a memoir about the last 3 weeks of life. It gives the reader a glimpse at the author’s childhood as well. It is a very angry memoir: anger about the cancer, 9 – years of struggle and suffering, leading up to her mother’s ultimate death. It is also about feelings: how a daughter felt cheated and short-changed by having to deal with losing her mother at a time when both of them should have been enjoying life.

Robin was angry throughout most of this brief story (just 211 pages). I felt some of what she did and said was very selfish. At one point Robin tells her dying mother, “ I won’t be ok , I can’t imagine life without you” – talk about putting a guilt trip on a dying loved one. But then her mother utters a weak response letting her daughter know that she really does not need her permission to let go.

Although many books have been written on this subject before, it is clear that not everyone deals with the loss of a loved one in the same way. Even though I could not relate to some of what the author experienced, I could relate to the sense of helplessness Robin felt, watching the suffering that her mother had to endure with her battle with cancer. This book is recommended for individuals dealing with the loss of a loved one.

RATING: 3.5/5 - COMPLETED - 3/14/09



  1. I'm sorry to hear about your mom, cancer is a terrible disease.
    This books looks like an emotionally charged one, I might pick it up when I'm up to it.

  2. Talk about a tough subject. I still have both my parents although they are getting older. I can't imagine how hard it would be to lose a parent at that age. I've seen a sister-in-law fight breast cancer for three years and die at 37 years old. You're right about people dealing with things differently. I think everyone needs to realize that there is no right or wrong way to deal with grief. You just have to do what you have to do to get through it.

  3. I also loss my mom, when I was in my late 20's, after her 2 year battle with lung cancer.
    I agree that everyone deal with these things differently...but anger is such a waste. And a waste of time when time is limited.


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