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Little Mercies (English Edition) Paperback – June 24, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 312 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As a social worker, Ellen Moore is regrettably familiar with the types of abuse adults can inflict on children. She’s seen burns, bruises, and deeper, psychological scars. Ellen’s casework has always bled into her home life as she plans routes to home visits while cooking breakfast or wakes up from a nightmare about one of her most violent cases. After Ellen accidentally leaves her one-year-old daughter in the family’s minivan during the hottest day of the year, Ellen finds herself on the other side of the law. Slapped with the liabilities that accompany such a terrible accident, Ellen is forced to confront the very system she knows so well. An unlikely ally enters her life, and Ellen’s mission to rebuild her relationships with her family, friends, and colleagues might be within her grasp. A story of motherhood, guilt, and redemption, Little Mercies examines our deepest fears and highest hopes. Gudenkauf’s prose is searingly raw, as Ellen’s confusion, guilt, and pain are laid bare. Thrilling and emotionally tender, this novel, with its driving pace, will appeal to fans of Lisa Scottoline and Jodi Picoult. --Stephanie Turza

Review

"Compelling... gripping."
-Publishers Weekly

"Gudenkauf's prose is searingly raw....Thrilling and emotionally tender, this novel, with its driving pace, will appeal to fans of Lisa Scottoline and Jodi Picoult."
-Booklist

"Deeply moving and exquisitely lyrical, this is a powerhouse of a novel."

-Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author, on The Weight of Silence

"A tense and profoundly emotional story...told with compassion and honesty. Heather Gudenkauf skillfully weaves an explosive tale of suspense and ultimately, the healing power of love."

-Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author on The Weight of Silence

"Fans of Jodi Picoult will devour this."

-Red magazine on The Weight of Silence

"Beautifully written, compassionately told, and relentlessly suspenseful."

-Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author, on The Weight of Silence

"A tale so chillingly real, it could have come from the latest headlines."

-Publishers Weekly on These Things Hidden, starred review

"Heather Gudenkauf has captured heart-wrenching emotion and spilled it out on the pages of her moving novel.... A remarkable story."

-Fresh Fiction on These Things Hidden

"One Breath Away takes the reader on an electrifying ride.... I dare you to forget it."

-Elizabeth Flock, New York Times bestselling author

"I have burns on my fingers from turning the pages too fast."

-Lesley Kagen, New York Times bestselling author, on One Breath Away
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA (June 24, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778316335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778316336
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (312 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kathy Habel TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This was a great story that had me second thinking how I look at and judge others. The story focuses on Ellen who through a series of unplanned events ends up leaving her child in the car on a hot day. Is this a crime worthy of prosecution and punishment or a terrible mistake? Ellen is a social worker and has taken children away from their parents, now the tables have been turned and she is the one being investigated.

I finished reading this book in Mid-July. Just last week a story hit our local news about a mother whose child died from heat exhaustion after being accidentally left in a car. The 20th child to die in the U.S. this year. I can honestly say I reacted with much more compassion and empathy than I might have because of reading this book. I recognize how easily such an accident can occur.

After reading this book I read a really good article on forgetting a child in the backseat of a car in the Washington Post. It's worth reading for those who are interested.

Little Mercies is a page turning story that held my interest. Recommended to those who enjoy Women's Fiction/Literary Fiction/Family Drama type stories.

Rating: 4.5 Stars - Highly Recommend

Content: some language

Source: Netgalley
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wife, mother, and child protective service Ellen Moore has saved countless children over the years. On one rushed morning, on her way to save two girls in danger, she accidentally locks her infant daughter, Avery, in a car. Avery's life hangs in the balance, as does Ellen's future. Ten-year-old Jenny Briard finds herself in a strange town after her father is arrested. Hoping to find the grandmother she's never met, Jenny's life will intersect with Ellen's in ways neither could have predicted.

Heather Gudenkauf has created another masterpiece. Her main characters are deeply complex, flawed, human beings who readers can't help but to champion. Gudenkauf has done a masterful job capturing the conflicts of a social worker charged with protecting vulnerable children, I know because I interned in such a position during grad school. The competence of Ellen's professional life is in such contrast to the moment of distraction that just might end in tragedy--a mistake easy to judge as "it could never happen to me" but LITTLE MERCIES shows us that yes, it very well could happen to any of us. Equally impressive, Gudenkauf captures the nuances of the defense mechanisms of a little girl trying not to end up back in foster care.
Gudenkauf if my favorite writer. I've read THESE THINGS HIDDEN close to ten times and I'm quite sure I'll reread and re-reread LITTLE MERCIES similarly. Told in Ellen's first person POV alternating with third person chapters centering on Jenny, the voices are at times lyrical, heartbreaking while also suspenseful with the need to keep reading to find out what happens next. I recommend this book to everyone and know you'll have as much pleasure as I did reading this gem. I rarely give 5 star reviews, but I'd give this 10 stars of I could.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It is not my practice to review books I believe are less than stellar. But I accepted this through the Vine program, thus I am required to give an honest review, so I will do so.

There are several major flaws in this novel. The most glaring is that of point of view. We are offered dual protagonists here, One is ten-year-old Jenny and the other is the harried and distracted first-person protagonist Ellen Moore, a social worker with kids of her own. The point of view problems come from the depiction of Jenny, who is only ten, but somehow is sophisticated enough to understand when her father is "going to make his move" on women and describes him as "almost movie-star handsome, but not quite... His nose was a bit too prominent and slightly off center." I'm sorry, but ten-year-old girls just don't think this way about their daddies. Jenny also immediately recognizes condoms when she finds them in her dad's backpack (and knows what they are for) but doesn't understand at all a later drug reference. I apologize for being picky here, but with most ten-year-old girls, it would be the other way around.

Here's what bothers me the most about this book, though, and it's the reason I need to be as honest as I can with this review: Heather Gudenkauf's publisher (Harlequin) describes this book as a "ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force" (see above description). I hardly see where it has been "ripped from the headlines" and, oh my, it certainly is not a "tour de force." This is a mediocre read at best--but could have been so much better with a hard critique and major editing work. The truth is, publishers today are quick to market without the benefit of polishing or perfecting the product, and I believe this does an injustice not only to consumers, but to Ms. Gudenkauf as well.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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