Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

Title: Little Mercies   
Author: Heather Gudenkauf     
Published: June 2014, Harlequin MIRA  
Format: ARC Paperback, 320 pages   
Source: Publisher  

In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences...

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity; the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

My thoughts: This is the first full-length novel I've read by Heather Gudenkauf and I was captivated from the first page. I had read the prequel to this book, Little Lies, that introduces us to the main character, Ellen, and I just knew from that little teaser that I was going to be in for a treat. Little did I know how much I would love this book.

Taken from the headlines, Heather Gudenkauf has crafted a tale so emotionally charged, it's hard not to come away from this book not being affected in some way. Told from the alternating perspectives of Ellen, the social worker and mother of three and Jenny, the young girl who suddenly finds herself on her own, the story moves at quite a fast pace, pulling you in so fast that you don't want to put the book down until you realize you've reached the end.

Ellen struggles with balancing her roles as mother of three and full-time social worker. She finds herself in a situation that we can only hope never to find ourselves in and must deal with the consequences as such. This is a unique place for her to be and she soon comes to have a greater understanding for some of her clients. As this is all going on, Jenny, a ten-year old who suddenly finds herself on her own, comes into her life. As Ellen is fighting for her own life, she is pulled into Jenny's world. Will Jenny let Ellen help her? Will helping Jenny hurt Ellen's case?

As I mentioned, this book is emotionally charged. Even though I don't have children myself, I was deeply touched by the mother-daughter relationships that play out in this book. But the book also makes you think...think that dreaded what if? What if that was me? Maybe not the same circumstances but could something just as far-reaching happen to me?  Do I get so busy and bogged down that I could make one small mistake that could lead to life-altering consequences? These are the thoughts that have been on my mind since finishing this book. Are we at times too distracted for our own good?

If this is any indication of what Heather Gudenkauf's other books are like, then she has a new fan!!! I definitely plan on going back and reading her previous books. I love when authors take ideas straight from the headlines - and really make you think and clearly Heather has done that with this book.

I went into this book not knowing what was going to happen and so, I have purposely been a bit vague in my review. Even as I've chatted about the book with friends, I've been very careful in what I say so as not to give too much away. Do you agree? Disagree?


  1. I really enjoyed this book. It's much different from what I've read in the past from Heather but good. Glad you liked it too.

  2. I enjoyed your review Kristin. I liked this book a lot.


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