4 of 15: “Mercury” by Hope Larson

The 4th in my 15/15/15 project is Mercury, a young adult graphic novel by Hope Larson.

I picked up Mercury as soon as I saw it in the comic shop last week. I’ve liked all three of Larson’s previous books, Grey Horses, Salamander Dream,and Chiggers. As do those books, Mercury has sympathetic and emotionally complex young girls, struggling with friendship and identity with a dash of magical realism thrown in.

In modern day Nova Scotia, Tara Fraser moves back the the town she and her family used to live in, before her parents split up and their house burnt down. She stays with her aunt and cousins and is returning to 10th grade, a few years after she left. The town, her burned-down home, and the school, are all both familiar and yet new to her.

Tara’s story alternates with that of her lookalike ancestor, Josey Fraser. Josey’s family lived in 1859 on the same farm, in the same house that burned down in Tara’s life. She’s a young teen when a handsome stranger named Asa Curry comes to their farm, claiming he’s looking for gold. Asa grows close to Josey, then he and Josey’s father find gold, all under the suspicious eyes of Josey’s mother. When things go bad, a series of events unfolds that echo mystically through the years to Tara’s time.

I really enjoyed seeing the parallels and contrasts in Josey and Tara’s life, as well as learning about some of the Scottish-Canadian historical myths of the region. Larson’s story and art easily capture the wide range of emotion in a teen’s life, from joy to anxiety, and it’s easy to sympathize with her characters as they try to make peace with their mothers and find love on their own. I enjoyed the magical realism, but could see how some might argue it’s not necessary. I think it gives an additional layer and a distinction to the story that made it stand out from other young-adult coming-of-age tales.

13 Responses to “4 of 15: “Mercury” by Hope Larson”

  1. Amy Says:

    I finished my book–barely: http://www.newcenturyreading.com/2010/04/the-151515-projectday-4.html

  2. MFS Says:

    Update here:


    Hey, would you and fellow 15/15/15ers wish me luck on my driver’s exam? It’s got me in knots, I’ll tell you. What’s *that* all about, eh?

    Best regards,


  3. tulip Says:

    Oh thank you for reminding me of this book! I loved Chiggers, you should try that if you haven’t read it yet.
    I’ve been doing my version of 15/15/15 except I’m not doing the 3rd 15 and blogging. I’ve read Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island and Sense and Sensibility so far. I know those might seem antiquated or silly but I had never read them before and I have enjoyed them quite a bit.
    I have started The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley and a Grant Morrison Flash graphic novel whose name escapes me now.
    Thanks for the inspiration. :)

  4. Inquirer Says:

    4 of 15 … Nikon D90 Users Guide. I feel a little like I am cheating, but I needed to read this book so i can use my new camera.


  5. girldetective Says:

    MFS, good luck! I suspect your test anxiety is a remnant of a lifelong desire to do well on tests. Or maybe that’s just me. Who failed her driver’s test the first time, but parallel parked with mere inches to spare today.

  6. girldetective Says:

    Oh, Tulip, those aren’t silly–those are all comfort books for me! Margaret Atwood contends that Marilla is really the protagonist, since she’s the one who changes most over the series.

  7. girldetective Says:

    Not cheating! I should read my manual for my camera and my phone! Not reading them is cheating more, I think!

  8. MFS Says:

    Only got one wrong. Yay! Proud owner of new license. Thanks for good thoughts.


    PS Today’s book *ROCKS*.

  9. Jessica Snell Says:

    This is making me think I ought to read more graphic novels. I’ve had trouble sticking to any of the ones I’ve tried though. I even tried one about a monster-fighting librarian (the idea was greatly appealing) and couldn’t hack it. I’ll have to give them another go after this challenge.

    My book yesterday was Manalive - a reread of an old favorite:

  10. ChristineMM Says:

    Melissa you have to retest for driver’s licenses in your state? Over here once we pass at age 16 we are golden until death.

    Girl Detective: I’ve gotten slammed on Amazon with ‘not helpful’ votes as I didn’t like Chiggers at all. Sorry we’re not on the same page. I’m a big fan of graphic stories.

    My book for day 4 is My Nephenthe.Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur. I have to admit I’m not done yet.


    Having trouble doing 1 regular book a day. Should switch off to some kids books (I have some here waiting for review, a series like American Girl set in medieval times, also for girls).

    Have a great night everyone.

  11. girldetective Says:

    Christine, I’m also having trouble keeping up, and am having to do some shuffling. My husband noted the other day that it wasn’t fair that I dinged him for not participating. He said if I’m reading a book a day, then he’s supporting me reading a book a day by wrangling kids, house, etc while I’m reading. Touche.

    And one of the things I HATE about amazon reviews is when you write a review that doesn’t go with the popular critical flow, you get slammed. Those people just don’t get it. To each her own. I have heard other people who didn’t like Chiggers, too, and can see how it isn’t everyone’s cuppa. Those people probably won’t like Mercury either, but still might appreciate Fun Home and Persepolis, which are graphic memoirs, and very different in subject.

    Jessica, no need to apologize for not getting graphic novels. I love them, but they’re not for everyone, just like mystery, romance, non-fiction, or whatever might not be someone’s favorite. That’s one of the cool things about doing this 15 project–seeing the wide range of books people pick!

  12. tulip Says:

    “Margaret Atwood contends that Marilla is really the protagonist, since she’s the one who changes most over the series.”

    Wow, that is a great thought. It’s interesting to note that all through the ones I’ve read I wondered more about Marilla than anyone else. Her life, more back story on how she lost her love and how painful/sweet it must have been for her when Anne and Gilbert eventually get married.

    Also how do you pronounce her name? I’ve been saying it with a spanish kind of pronunciation “mar i ya”, kind of like Maria but with that interesting spanish ll sound. I’m betting that’s not right though.

    I just added Fun Home to my list of finished books. I REALLY liked it. It was like a kindred sad spirit to a lot of my life experiences oddly enough.

  13. Sherry Says:

    Book #4: A Walk With Jane Austen by Lori Smith. (I’m a day behind because I skipped Sunday.)