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The Mercy Tree by Sharlene MacLaren

About the Book

Title: The Mercy Tree

Author: Sharlene MacLaren

Genre: Christian /American Historical /Historical Romance/Mystery & Suspense

Length: 407 pages;file size 3587 Kb

Publisher: Whitaker House

Released: February 7,2023

It’s 1955, when scandalous affairs are never talked about, divorce is rare, a wife is a “homemaker” more often than not, and every Christian home displays its family Bible front and center. Certainly, a well-respected pastor in the conservative city of Muskegon, Michigan, would never be caught in the middle of a heinous secret that could ruin his career and break up his beautiful marriage and family. Or would he?

When Henry Griffin was stationed in occupied Japan in the mid-1940s, he met Rina Hamada, a Japanese woman who fell head over heels for him. Despite having a young wife and baby daughter waiting at home in the States, Henry had too much to drink one night, and one thing led to another… He knew it was wrong. He struggled with guilt and expressed his resistance, but she professed her love and continued to pursue him.

Now, ten years later, a letter from Japan arrives and threatens to upend Henry’s world. What to do and how to tell his wife are just the beginning of his troubles. Tough questions about faith, redemption, and preserving his reputation bring us here, under the shade of The Mercy Tree.

Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene attended Spring Arbor University. Upon graduating with an education degree in 1971, she taught second grade for two years then accepted an invitation to travel internationally for a year with a singing ensemble. In 1975, she married her childhood sweetheart. Together they raised two lovely, wonderful daughters, both of whom are now happily married and enjoying their own families. Retired in 2003 from 31-years of teaching, “Shar” loves to read, sing, travel, and spend time with her family, in particular, her wonderful, adorable grandchildren!

About the Author

A Christian for 45+ years, and a lover of the English language, Shar has always enjoyed dabbling in writing–poetry, fiction, various essays, and freelancing for periodicals and newspapers. Her favored genre, however, has always been romance. She remembers well the short stories she wrote in high school and watching them circulate from girl to girl during government and civics classes. “Psst,” someone would whisper from two rows over, and always with the teacher’s back to the class, “Pass me the next page.” 

In recent years, Shar felt God’s call upon her heart to take her writing pleasures a step further and in 2006 signed a contract for her first faith-based novel; thereby, launching her writing career with Through Every Storm. With a dozen books now gracing store shelves nationwide, she daily gives God all the praise and glory for her accomplishments. 

Shar has done numerous countrywide book-signings, television and radio appearances, and countless interviews. She loves to speak for women’s organizations, libraries, church groups, women’s retreats, and banquets. She is involved in Apples of Gold, a mentoring program for young wives and/or mothers, and is active in her church as well as two weekly Bible studies. She and her husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan with their beautiful white collie, Peyton and their rag doll cat named Blue.

Awards and Accolades: 

2006 Through Every Storm – American Christian Fiction Writers” Book-of-the-Year (now Carol Awards) finalist 

2007 Loving Liza Jane – Road to Romance Reviewer’s Choice Award 

2008 Sarah, My Beloved – Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award (3rd Place)

2008 Sarah, My Beloved – Road to Romance Reviewer’s Choice Award

2009 Courting Emma – Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award (3rd Place)

2010 Hannah Grace – Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award (2nd Place)

2011 Abbie Ann – Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award (3rd Place)

2011 Tender Vow – Retailers’ Choice Award Finalist

My Impressions

“Henry had stepped out of God’s grace. Was there any hope for him?”

Not what I expected!! I started this book, The Mercy Tree, by Sharlene MacLaren with much trepidation. It seemed to be an old-fashioned 50s novel with those restrictive, legalistic Christian values. But, as I read on, I began to realize this was just a depiction of many evangelical churches of that era and the people within. Are/were all Christians like that? No more than all cats are tabby or all cats are white.

We see a pastor, Henry Griffin, who in his time In Japan strays from his faith (he was not a pastor at the time, nor was this a continuing situation). However, when he keeps silent and is finally forced by surprising circumstances to admit to his family and congregation his error, what will the results be?

Travel this emotional journey with Henry; his wife, Nora; her “proper” mother; the town busybody, and others as we see how “church culture” clashes with the love and commands of God.

So many people, Christians, and non-Christians alike get their focus wrong about what following Christ is. It’s not about being perfect; we can’t. It’s not about following the Ten Commandments or even the rules of the Old Testament. “Too many people get caught up in the do’s and dont’s of Christianity when really, it’s not about that. It’s about living in freedom and forgiveness.”

I received a copy of this book from the author. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“Only God could fix the mess he’d gotten himself into. Only God.”

“We all make mistakes, and because of God’s grace, He forgives the vilest of sinners.”

“I can’t hate sinners if Jesus himself doesn’t.”

“…since I can’t take back the past, I’m choosing to move forward.”

My Rating


Magnificent! Who God really is, the God of second chances and forgiveness, versus Who we often present Him as, the God of one strike and done!

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