Little Mercies

By Heather Gudenkauf

4 out of 5 stars

This book is so very topical with all that’s been in the news lately and gave me a different perspective.

Ellen Moore is a very busy social worker and the mother of three children. Her home is like any normal American home with two working parents, both trying to juggle the different places the children need to be with their own schedules. Ellen has also seen the other side of parenting when parents aren’t always the best people to raise their own children. Where neglect rears it’s ugly head and children are hurt.

It starts with a typical kind of day and then Ellen gets a call from one of the children in one of her cases. She’s locked herself in the bathroom with her little sister as her mother’s boyfriend rails on their mom. Ellen dashes off, her husband yelling to her. She doesn’t hear him but just gives him the okay sign and here starts a horrid nightmare for any parent. As Ellen lingers outside the house where the violence is occurring, it’s very hot. She is trying to aid the police in getting in touch with the children inside. As the hour goes by, she sees someone vandalizing her car. Only this isn’t vandalism, they are trying to break Ellen’s baby Avery out of the sweltering car. Ellen goes into shock, she hadn’t even realized she was in there. Ellen’s nightmare only gets worse when she is charged with child endangerment and suffers exactly what many of the mothers she has worked with, go through.

Hand in hand with Ellen’s story is the story of Jenny Briard. She is getting on the bus with her father when he is detained and she travels anyway. She plans on going to Cedar City where her grandmother lives. Well, she assumes her grandmother is there because she got a birthday card from her years before. Jenny’s dad has been raising her since her mother’s boyfriend beat Jenny up. So what will Jenny be walking into? With the help of a kind waitress, Jenny sees life in another way. The waitress also has a deep connection with Ellen.

I finished reading this into the night last night. Loved it! I was in tears by the time I turned the last page. A simple accident can change everyone’s life so drastically. I always say when I read the stories in the paper, how could you forget your child was in the car?! I think in most of those cases, the person who does the forgetting has been the one that put them in the car in the first place but this story put a different spin on it. Who do you blame? In the story, Ellen and her husband both blame themselves but find that sticking together is the one thing that will get them through it.

I always look forward to any book by Heather Gudenkauf and I think this might have been one of my favorites. Can’t wait for the next one! (And I also hope she explores these characters again in another book.)

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