Periodically, I like to check on some of my favorite authors to find out if they have any upcoming releases. In about February, I discovered Heather Gudenkauf's novel Little Mercies would be releasing in June 2014. The wait just about killed me!
Some of you may remember me going crazy fangirl over Heather Gudenkauf's previous three books The Weight of Silence, These Things Hidden, and One Breath Away. I'm hooked, that's for sure.
To help tie over crazy readers like myself, Heather Gudenkauf also produced a novela as a prequel to Little Mercies, called Little Lies. I purchased this as a Kindle book for only 99 cents; I don't know that it was ever released in print.
Anyway, prior to reading Little Mercies, I had to read Little Lies. I was hooked, and was left wanting more! It's a good thing I delayed reading Little Lies until I had Little Mercies in-hand! The prequel isn't necessary for enjoying Little Mercies, but it does allow the reader to form a bond with the main character before even reading the novel.
Ok, enough backstory, right?! Onto the review!
Little Mercies is told from two different perspectives, as with all of Gudenkauf's novels. Ellen Moore is a social worker, mom, and busy body--much like the rest of us! She is extremely passionate about her work and about helping children to put them in the safest situations as possible. Ten-year-old Jenny Braird has a dark past filled with abuse.
As is often the case, life changes in the blink of an eye for both of them. A distracted Ellen leaves her daughter in the car on a hot summer day. The daughter suffers a heat stroke, and is rushed to the hospital. Ellen is left flustered and confused. How could this happen to her?
In the meantime, Jenny has been in the custody of her father. One day, he encourages her to get on the bus ahead of him. In the minutes between her getting on the bus and him following, Jenny's dad is pursued by the police. In the confusion, he hits a police officer and is taken into custody. Jenny
continues on the bus, hoping to find her maternal grandmother, since her father is in prison.
Paths for the two meet in the form of Ellen's mother, Maudene, who welcomes Jenny into her home, as she sees the signs of abuse. Ellen struggles as she receives court orders to stay away from her hospitalized daughter and threats of having her other two children taken away.
This novel is very beautifully written, as is true of the rest of Gudenkauf's works. The characters are very relateable, as we can all understand how confusing these sudden situations can be. In particular, Ellen's story centers around an extremely controversial, yet usually honest, mistake. As with all of her novels, Gudenkauf inserts the reader into the stories; their worries are yours, their problems are yours, and their triumphs are your own as well. Little Lies was the perfect beginning to a wonderfully told story, Little Mercies.
The largest difference I saw between this novel and her others was the pace at which I read it. With all three of Gudenkauf's other novels, I could not put them down! Even with Little Lies, I was hooked and read it instantly! Little Mercies took me almost a week to get through, as the pace of it just wasn't as gripping as previous works. The quality of content was still fabulous!
Overall review, though? If you are looking for a fabulous summer read, THIS IS IT.
FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.