Book Review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

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.
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Age Group: Adult
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli
Ever since I became a mother, I love reading contemporary novels about motherhood and its many challenges.  Being a parent is like no other experience I've ever had, and small moments of connection, whether they are found with friends or in books, really make a difference in how I view the challenges of parenthood.  Little Mercies is by far the best book about parenting and life with small children that I've ever read.  It was gripping, emotional, and intense. 

Gudenkauf uses a dual narrative, alternating between Ellen and Jenny's stories each chapter.  The difference was, in this novel, Ellen's story is told in the first person, and Jenny's is told in the third person.  At first glance, you'd think that this type of narration wouldn't flow well, but it worked perfectly for this story.  It allowed Little Mercies to really feel like Ellen's book, which it was.

When I read the summary for Little Mercies, I thought that there was no realistic or believable way that Ellen and Jenny's lives could converge.  Boy, was I wrong!  Gudenkauf wove their stories together in the most subtle and interesting of ways.  It was unique to see how Jenny changes Ellen's perspective on life, and how Ellen's influence changes Jenny's world for the better.

The crux of Little Mercies is a very relevant topic in today's world.  Ellen makes a terrible mistake, one that any parent could make, no matter who they are, and its effects are far-reaching and completely life-changing.  I loved the way Gudenkauf resolved the conflict: it was realistic yet not too perfect.  Life is messy and imperfect and Little Mercies reflected that truth perfectly.

An important fact to note is that while Little Mercies is intended for adults, it was a pretty clean read, with references to sex but nothing more. 

Little Mercies was an outstanding book.  I'd recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction, women's fiction, and even literary fiction.         


1 comment:

  1. Wow. Sounds like a major winner. Thanks for the review. I'm so looking this one up.

    PS Hope you're having an awesome summer.


Word verification stinks--- but spammers are worse. Thank you for your patience!