Review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

little-mercies“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.” – Goodreads

I am a huge fan of Heather Gudenkauf, and having read all of her previously written novels was beyond excited to get my hands on her most recent work, Little Mercies (June, 2014). Gudenkauf does not disappoint with her trademark rip-your-heart-to-shreds subject matter and in this particular novel offers up two storylines that run parallel to each other, weaving together ever so slightly until the surprise ending.

Ellen Moore is a long-time social worker, wife, and mother of three. Every day she courageously advocates for child after child and is forced to make sometimes devastating decisions based on their best interests. She is a champion to many but considered a devil to some. When the time comes, one record-breakingly hot summer day, that Ellen slips up and makes a mistake with one of her own children, the spotlight focuses on her and she is in for the fight of her life.

Ten-year-old Jenny Briard has just come to town, having left her father behind in Nebraska after a misunderstanding. Scared, lost, with only some hidden cash and her long-lost grandmother’s address in an envelope, Jenny tries to make a plan. When she comes across some shocking photos and becomes sick, a kind, middle-aged waitress comes to her aid and takes Jenny under her wing. Will this guardian angel be able to reunite Jenny and her grandmother, or will Jenny have to find her own way back to her unreliable father once again?

I have to be honest here. It took me a little bit to figure out what I thought about this book. Where Gudenkauf’s previous work was dramatic, somewhat dark, and full of mystery, Little Mercies is merely an everyday drama. Not that there is anything wrong with that at all – it is just not what I was expecting and so I felt a little bit let down. So did that make this a mediocre book, or just one that I was disappointed in for not being what I had hoped it would be? It’s the latter, I believe. Gudenkauf still writes with talent and empathy, grabbing at the hearts of her readers at just the right moments. All in all, it was an enjoyable reading experience. I can definitely say that I would recommend this novel to others – in fact, I recommend it to you.

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf. Buy it, read it, love it.

4 stars

Source: Personal Library

 

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