Book Review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf


Ellen Moore is a conscientious social worker. A mother of three, she works with troubled families and several times, has had to make difficult decisions regarding her clients. Of taking children into care, because their parents were incapable of caring for them. A difficult decision, but one she has had to make, as that seemed the right thing to do for the children’s well-being. As a social worker, Ellen has seen the worst kind of things that people could do to children. She has fought to keep children safe, to bring the guilty to justice. Some cases she’s been successful, but in others criminals have got away, those are the ones that continue to haunt her.

In a sad twist of fate, Ellen finds herself in the same situation as her clients. She had a momentary lapse and faces the possibility of her child being taken away from her.

As a ferocious children’s rights and protection advocate she finds herself trapped in the same situation as her clients. Her former colleagues have no option but to follow the rules, especially when its one of their own who is the one facing charges.

As Ellen goes through the worst ever nightmare, her family rallies around her. Her husband with his unstinting support and her mother, with more practical means like providing her two older children with a home while their mother battle out with the authorities. Ellen’s mother has another unexpected charge, ten years old Jenny, who had ended up separated from her dad. Jenny has a story of her own. Living with her loving but alcoholic dad has exposed her to dangers as well as a survival mechanism way beyond her years. The one thing she has learnt in her short life is to stay clear of social workers, and funnily enough, she ends up in a social worker’s mother house of all places.

Ellen’s and Jenny’s stories is narrated in parallel. A very interesting narrative, one that makes you think. It could happen to any of us. Despite being the best of parents, what if we commit one mistake, just one innocent mistake, that makes us a criminal. One mistake that could end up separating you from your beloved child. A very scary prospect. That’s what it is. And yet, possible. Even if we are very careful most of the time, it could be that one tiny mistake that might turn into the worst mistake of our life. It was a situation, I as a parent, could easily relate to.

A book that affected me, and a book that I enjoyed reading. Well etched characters, an interesting premise and a fast paced narrative. A book I would recommend, if you like reading this genre of books. I do, and would rate it 4/5.

About the Author

Heather Gudenkauf is a NY times and USA Today bestselling author.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).