Review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf
Harlequin/Mira, 2014

Description (from the author’s website)

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 Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

Ellen Moore who is a social worker and has dedicated her life to helping abused and neglected children, finds herself under investigation.

At the same time we follow the story of a young girl, Jenny Briard.  She is traveling alone, clinging to her backpack.  Ellen’s mother, Maudene, takes Jenny under her care.   Jenny who was once put in foster care is suspicious of any authority figures.  I especially enjoyed having insight into Jenny’s thoughts.

There is a section at the end of the book, “A Conversation with Heather Gudenkauf”, where Gudenkauf talks about the title, Little Mercies.

“I think there are many times when we find ourselves hoping for the big miracles in life such as a cure to a horrible illness or picking the winning lottery numbers, but I truly believe it’s the small kindnesses – the little mercies – that really get us through the difficult times.  In the novel, for Ellen, the little mercies come from her family and friends who help her navigate an incredibly difficult time.  For Jenny, it’s the compassion of strangers that she meets along her journey who come to her aid.  My hope is that readers find ways to pass little mercies on to complete strangers as well as to their loved ones.  It can be as simple as a smile and a cheerful hello; it can be a shoulder to cry on or the gift of time.  The possibilities are endless.”

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf  is a heart wrenching story.  The little mercies shown are very touching.   We also gain insight into Social Services. Gudenkauf has written a very powerful and enjoyable novel.

8 thoughts on “Review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf”

  1. Pat, I’m glad you enjoyed Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf. It sounds like a very lovely and satisfying book.


  2. Heard so much about these books by this author. I love the little bit you shared about the little mercies that make our lives so much more enriched.


  3. I’ve been seeing this book everywhere lately, and I just can’t bring myself to read it. As a mother to young children, I think it would scare me too much. I see you’re reading Lone Survivor…my husband and brother loved that one!


  4. I loved this book! And as a veteran of social work (thirty years!), I can definitely relate to the issues. And unlike most of my former colleagues, I am drawn to books and movies like this one.I’m glad you liked it…and thanks for visiting my blog.


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