- Written By: Heather Gudenkauf
- Published By: Harlequin MIRA June 24, 2014
- Length: 320 pages
- Source: E galley via Net Galley with permission by publisher in consideration of an honest review
Jenny is 10 years old, she lives with just her dad, because her mom’s boyfriend beat her up, and mom lost her rights to see Jenny. Jenny’s dad had jumped from job to job, one dump to live in to the next. When he tells her they are getting on a bus and going to Dubuque Iowa she’s both nervous and excited. Her dad has said he had jobs other times and it didn’t work out. But on that day he wasn’t drinking and he seemed okay. Jenny got on the bus, but after some trouble at the bus depot her dad didn’t. Her journey alone begins. When she decides to get off in Cedar Rapids she is hungry and tired. What happens next may have saved Jenny’s life.
In another story line Ellen Moore is a social worker with a busy home life. She has 3 children, and her husband is a teacher. She’s rushing out the door during summer, kids making noise, she’s overslept, her husband has to go have a baseball practice, and she knows she’s missing something, some detail, but off she goes. She receives a phone call from a very frightened child, she is her client, and she tells her that her mother’s boyfriend is yelling at her, and he may be hitting her. She and her sister are in another room hiding, trying to be very quiet. Can she help them? She re-routes and knows she can forget the meeting she’s already late for. She calls for police and once she arrives she focuses on the children. She notices neighbors gathering, and she’s thankful when both girls are out unharmed. Suddenly she notices a crowd around her van, and some people are breaking windows and yelling. What is going on? What has Ellen forgotten?
Told in alternating voices and chapters Jenny and Ellen are two people caught in limbo. Choices they make in a split second change everything for their lives. In a series of coincidences the two main characters cross paths. Jenny is lucky and has found a caring grandmother who knows she’s alone and in trouble. She takes her in as she fears Jenny has no place to go. Jenny has never felt to cared for, she is suspicious and yet craves the attention.
Little Mercies is a wonderful book, it had me cheering for the love and care that Jenny so needs in her life. My heart was also torn as Ellen is so like most mothers, over committed and trying to keep it all together, family, work, marriage. Ellen’s mistake nearly costs her all she could think of giving.
As a fan of Heather Gudenkauf’s books I was once again rewarded with this gut wrenching wild ride of a story. I couldn’t put it down. She captures the sadness of a young child shuffled parent to parent, who even with good intentions are financially and emotionally incapable of caring for her the way every child deserves. Gudenkauf also nails the torment of every parents worst nightmare. She reminds us that our daily routines and distractions can’t get in the way of our attention to our children.