Reviewed by Jennifer Joyce
Social worker Ellen Moore has witnessed a lot of child neglect in her line of work and while her job can sometimes be horrific, she knows she is doing her best for the children she comes into contact with. But one morning, in a panicked rush, Ellen finds herself on the other side of the fence. Her daughter is put in danger and by the time Ellen realises, it could be too late. Whatever the outcome may be for her baby daughter, Ellen’s life will never be the same again.
I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy Little Mercies when the book began and I learned what Ellen did for a living. Past cases of child abuse are touched upon and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a very comfortable read, but luckily there wasn’t too much detail given to make it a difficult read. The book takes place over just a few days and while this can sometimes slow the pace down, I didn’t feel like this was the case with Little Mercies. For me, the pace was spot on, leading the reader to the incident we know is looming. I felt for Ellen throughout the book as she has to deal with the consequences of what happens to her daughter, Avery, battling her own guilt and the legal system that keeps her from seeing her baby when she needs her the most.
As well as Ellen’s story, we have Jenny, a ten-year-old girl who finds herself alone in a strange new city. Jenny is an amazing little girl who shows a lot of courage and determination. She’s been through a lot in her short life and I was immediately drawn into her world. I was captivated by Jenny and her story and wanted as happy an outcome for her as possible under the circumstances. The book is told from the perspective of both Ellen and Jenny and I wasn’t sure how their stories would connect but their lives are cleverly woven together.
Little Mercies is an emotional, gripping read and I loved every page of it. It’s the first book by Heather Gudenkauf that I’ve read but I’d definitely want to read more.