When twenty-four-year-old Tom Tetreault becomes consumed with a self-destructive hate for his grandfather, a near-death experience introduces him to invisible forces that enable him not only to recover his own life, but to help his grandfather die as he had seldom lived- in peace.
The intermediary between Tom and those forces for life is a spirit guide called the Dark Woman, modeled after the wise woman of the Iroquois nations. From a small Massachusetts fishing town, through New Hampshire and Vermont, to the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Canada, she accompanies him on an extraordinary journey of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Having struggled against odds to recover his love for his grandfather, Tom learns that his love extends beyond his immediate family, and leads him to the discovery of his Mohawk heritage and destiny as a spiritual healer among his people.
"A heartfelt story of human victory over hopelessness and despair. The reader is allowed to embrace the sometimes elusive light at the end of the tunnel and to feel the divine intervention of spirit that changes the life of these hauntingly familiar characters forever." -- Jamie Sams, author of Medicine Cards TM, Earth Medicine, and Dancing the Dream -- Publisher Comments
"A restorative, an elixir. As refreshing as ice tea in Summer's heat... A totem dance unites generations in this generous, warm story." -- The Book Reader
"In this modern medicine tale, the visions of the shaman and the ordinary experience of a son of two worlds intermingle beautifully as we follow a journey of truth and restoration..." -- Anita Manuel, NAPRA ReView: Vol. 10, No. 3
From Lorraine Lauzon, The Paper, Hillsdale, NY
The author, a former Catholic priest who later married and raised three sons, reflects strongly on his French Canadian background in this, his first novel. The intricate plot that he presents can be compared to a tightly woven tapestry with all of the facts in place but missing the correct interpretation. The literary design begins to unravel as 24-year-old Tom Tetreault, the central character, a recovering alcoholic on the brink of suicide, resolves to solve the riddle of his youth but not without the assistance of his beloved Anna. Among the questions he must answer are: who was his mother, what really happened to his father, and why do his grandparents, who brought him up, display such diverse personalities. The devotion of his grandmother, and the near abusive behavior of his grandfather, have much to do with the central story. As it unfolds, slowly at first, then with facts that tumble over the pages like a rushing, cleansing waterfall, Tom is assisted by powerful American Indian visions and voices that are eventually revealed and have a direct reference to his own ancestry. Among these contacts are The Dark Woman, Whale and Dragonfly. The fascinating plot climaxes as these heretofore mysterious interludes finally come into focus, sometimes painfully, and the pattern of the literary tapestry of Tom's life becomes colorfully clear. The peaceful ending will probably haunt readers for a while or at least until the author gives us another related novel. There is also much to ponder in a story that successfully combines the elements of philosophy, religion, and wisdom.
From Deborah Gotts, New Age Retailer, Bellingham, WA
The river whale swims ineffably and luminously in the sky above Cannery Bridge, its great eyes seeing straight into the heart of Thomas Tetreault. Tetreault stumbles along, drunk, bent on his own destruction, noticing nothing until the great spirit whale literally slaps some sense into him with its flukes. And so this amazing novel of visionary fiction begins. Ron Mercier, a former Catholic priest, teacher, and psychotherapist who now devotes his time to writing, has produced an amazing journey into the darkness of the human psyche. Mercier examines the incredible strength of will required to forgive and return to the land of the living. Mercier's main character, Tetreault, loved his grandfather with the strength of a child whose idol can do no wrong, but all of that was shattered the day he arrived just in time to save his grandfather from suicide. His grandfather never forgave him for thwarting his plans, and the young man could not forgive his grandfather for trying to abandon him. A character called "the dark woman," modeled after the wise woman of the Iroquois Nation, is Tetreault's guide during this journey of discovery. She leads him along the sometimes rocky and precipitous path of self-realization. Through the dark woman's stern but loving tutelage, Tetreault embraces his American Indian heritage and his destiny as a spiritual healer. This volume of self-discovery has the capacity to speak to every person who reads it. Customers will enjoy this beautiful story. If you stock books about substance abuse and recovery, be sure to include Dance the River Whale in your inventory.
From Richard Fuller, Metaphysical Reviews, Wyoming, MI
Thomas, the besotted protagonist in this visionary novel, is consumed by hatred for his dying grandfather. Why this is, and more importantly, what Tom does to recover his life, is the focus of Ron Mercier's brilliant new book, Dance the River Whale. Truth is the catalyst for change and Thomas learns that his father did not merely disappear, he committed suicide… and his mother, thought to be dead since Tom's birth, was not. His mother is an American Indian who went back to Canada. Finally, Tom's hated grandfather forbade Tom's mother and father from being married! Dance the River Whale is a rare combination of a must-turn-the-page novel combined with recovery, spirituality and wisdom rooted in Iroquois and Mohawk heritage… and Catholic Christianity. To find his truth, Tom embarks on a journey with his spirit guide called the Dark Woman, to New Hampshire, Vermont and Canada. Their journey is much more than a physical trip…it is an extraordinary voyage to forgiveness and reconciliation. Tom discovers love, for himself… his grandfather… and the people of Earth. And Tom discovers all this by the divine intervention of Spirit. Dance the River Whale is written on many levels, which is what sets it apart from ordinary books. It is a marvelous story by a truly gifted writer that heralds the human ability to vanquish demons. More, it is a melding of several spiritual paths… all leading to the same golden goal, enlightenment."
From Publisher's Weekly
"Mercier puts his experience as a psychotherapist and former Catholic priest to good use in this first novel of familial hatred, familial reconciliation and spiritual enlightenment. Tom Tetreault, 24, a French-Canadian living in Ingram, Mass., is at the end of his tether. Consumed with hatred for his once-beloved grandfather, he has spent the past few years trying to drink himself to death...The roots of this hatred are many: Tom's grandfather called Tom's absent mother a whore and Tom's father a coward. Most complicated of all, the teenaged Tom intervened in his grandfather's attempted suicide. Now the grandfather is dying and wants to unveil the secrets of Tom's tragic family history if Tom can listen to his heart and trust the old man. The grandfather's revelations set Tom on a journey to recover his Native American heritage and to fulfill his destiny as a healer...readers interested in exploring the links between Christianity and Native American spirituality may enjoy Mercier's creative configurations." Read the full review here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ron Mercier, a former Catholic priest, teacher and psychotherapist, continues to devote his time and energy to study and writing. Father and grandfather, he lives with his wife, Stella, in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. He is confident that the compassionate imagination of inclusion and possibility, demonstrated in response to the latest hurricane Sandy, can be marshaled to create a partnership society in which people of all races and beliefs can live creatively together in prosperity and peace.