Town Without Mercy – Joanne Simon Tailele & Cecelia Marie (narrator)

This is a case of good intentions not being enough, the road to hell and all that. I try to be fair in my reviews, and to avoid being mean but I’m kinda mad after listening to this so I might fail and I’m sorry if I do.

The premise for Town Without Mercy sounded interesting (first female mass shooter in the history of the United States, told from the POV of one of her mothers) but too much wrong stuff got in the way.

First of all, the girl’s birth was a result of a date rape. Adele, the girl’s biological mother, hasn’t seen the guy since that night but when he’s back on the scene for various reasons, he’s treated like some kind of fling, someone she had a one night stand with, not the man who raped her. I get that rape victims can feel responsible but since the whole story is told from her POV, there’s no one to reassure her or anything. And maybe some LGBT parents feel bad for raising their children in LGBT families but I had a hard time believing Adele and her wife Jodi would feel okay with that man talking about their (as in his and Adele’s) daughter without correcting him, after he’s known he’s the father for all of five minutes. Add to that the whole talk about a father figure and how a lesbian activist Adele meets could have been pretty had she not tried so hard to be masculine and it was too much for me. I mean, seriously?

I shouldn’t be too surprised by the amount of clichés about same-sex couples, there are about as many about French people (Jodi is French, which I didn’t understand at first since the narrator’s accent was atrocious. That’s probably what disappointed me the most, as Cecelia Marie is a pen name for Sarah Sampino, who did such a wonderful job with Claire Highton-Stevenson’s Escape and Freedom).

Good for you if you want to write about important topics in today’s society (in this case mass shootings, same-sex marriage, homophobia, bullying…), good for you if you want to write about people you feel are underrepresented but maybe leave your own prejudice at the door. Good intentions are not enough.

There’s no way I can recommend this book to anyone. If you’re interested in a mass shooter’s mother’s take on her child’s crime, this Ted Talk is a better use of your time:


Town Without Mercy @ audible

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