Book Review 5: Little Mercies

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

Heather Gudenkauf is one of those rare breed of authors who truly never lets you down. Sure, there are those who write and who write well, but it’s almost like going to a restaurant and ordering a meal and expecting it to be the same the next time. The texture is the same, the flavor is the same, but there’s something off about the meal. It’s just not as good as it was the first time and you find yourself wishing you could go back to that moment, to the very first time you ate that delicious dinner and pinpoint exactly what the mystery ingredient is.

But reading Heather Gudenkauf is like being able to experience that first amazing meal over and over again. In short? She doesn’t disappoint.

Little Mercies follows Ellen Moore, a dedicated social worker who is truly a bleeding heart for all of the neglected and abused children out there, after an accident thrusts her into the spotlight as a neglectful mother. Ellen has seen it all; the good, the bad, the ugly, but she never thought she would fit into the latter categories, but after a hectic morning, Ellen misses a crucial detail, her youngest daughter Avery whom has been left in her car in the sweltering summer heat.

As a reader who has been subjected to quite a few real life stories this summer on the news featuring parents leaving children in the car, it was frustrating. And yet, as a human being, a person who understands how frantic life can get, I found myself sympathizing with Ellen and crying right along with her, fervently stating, “It was an accident!”

As we’re there with Ellen and her family as they go through the motions in the aftermath of such a tragedy, we also meet Jenny Briard, a young girl who has traveled a long way by herself, a girl who has a connection to Ellen that neither are aware of.

Gudenkauf is able to weave this incredible web of connectivity where the ripples are unseen by the naked eye, but very much present. In the end we’re left to decide what should have happened, what shouldn’t have happened, why these events took place, and if there really is a bit of mercy even in the wake of destruction.


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