Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Little Mercies ~ Heather Gudenkauf (earc) review [@hgudenkauf @HarlequinBooks @MiraEditors #HarlequinMIRA]

Little Mercies
Harlequin MIRA
June 24, 2014
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences...

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity;the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

Little Mercies is a compelling and emotional read due to both the subject matter and the characters. Chapters alternate between Ellen, her life and Jenny's story. Ellen is the one most can identify with: a mother who loves her children and husband, maybe needs to call her mother more and finds great satisfaction (as well as heartache) in doing her job. Her being so easy to relate to, adds something to the emotional impact on readers when Ellen makes a tragic mistake.

As Ellen lives through the new reality that is her life, experiencing things and facing consequences she never imagined, she cannot help but questions things that seemed so certain to her just hours or days before. This is not only a thought provoking time for the character but for readers as well. As Ellen calls her beliefs into question, readers will think of assumptions they may have made.

It is something you never want to experience, something unimaginable, yet through Ellen we get an idea of what similar circumstances might, in fact, be like.

Ellen's entry into ten-year-old Jenny's life will bring about events neither of them could predict. Living an unpredictable life with her father for several years, Jenny has now found herself alone. If only she could figure out how to get things back to normal - at least her normal.

Jenny is a really fantastic character. She seems like a ten-year-old but one with experiences and knowledge a child her age shouldn't have. The more of her story that unfolds, the more we can see her past, understand her fears and hope for a better future.

Each of the characters and her story is given full attention but how they impact each other is great. Jenny provides a lot of insight, though how she sees things or even what she sees, into Ellen, her family and what's happening to them. Her character provides a unique viewpoint. Readers and the characters alike see things differently, see things that would have gone unnoticed without Jenny.

With her life taking most of her focus, Ellen doesn't provide as much about Jenny but her role in the girl's tale is undeniable - and relies on and draws from who her character is very well.

The characters, their stories and their relationships all come together in Little Mercies for one very readable tale.

Meet Ellen, her family and coworkers and see how committed she is to her job in Little Mercies ebook prequel novella Little Lies (my review with purchase links)

Rating: 8/10

Another book you may also enjoy:  How High the Moon by Sandra Kring

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