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Insightful,
Inspiring,
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5 reviews

Little Mercies
by Heather Gudenkauf

Published: 2014-06-24
Paperback : 320 pages
10 members reading this now
15 clubs reading this now
8 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 5 of 5 members
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 ...
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Introduction

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.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

When people find out what I do for a living their first question is always about the most horrendous case of child abuse I’ve encountered. I can be at a backyard barbecue or at a New Year’s Eve party or in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, or my husband’s baseball game. You must see so much, they say, shaking their heads, lips pursed in something like empathy, like I was the one who might have endured the beatings, the burns, the torrents of hateful words. Of course I don’t share any details about my clients and their families. So much has been stripped from the children that stagger in and out of my orbit; the very least I can do is honor their privacy. Come on, people urge, tell me. It’s bad, isn’t it? Like I’m dangling some salacious gossip in front of them. Like I’m keeping mum because I don’t want to offend their tender ears, upset their perfectly ordered worlds where all children are touched with gentle hands, spoken to with loving words and tucked warmly into beds with full stomachs. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Like many parents, Ellen struggles to balance her personal and professional lives. Discuss how you face maintaining that precarious balance between home and work.

2. Ellen’s former client Jade steps in to save Avery’s life and Ellen finds herself being seen as an unfit mother. Talk about this reversal of roles. How do you think this changed Ellen’s view of the parents she works with and how they think of Ellen? Does this change your opinion of parents who might have experience in the child welfare system?

3. Discuss the ways parenthood and adult-child relationships are portrayed in the novel. Think about Jenny’s relationships with her father, mother, Maudene, her father’s friend-girls and Ellen’s relationship with her own children and the children she works with as a social worker.

4. Discuss the ways parenthood and adult-child relationships are portrayed in the novel. Think about Jenny’s relationships with her father, mother, Maudene, her father’s friend-girls and Ellen’s relationship with her own children and the children she works with as a social worker.

5. Ellen is charged with a felony and potentially faces a prison sentence. Do you think she should have to serve time behind bars? Why or why not?

6. What scenes or developments in the novel affected you most?

7. Adam quickly forgives Ellen for leaving Avery in the hot car. How would you react in a similar situation? Does Ellen deserve forgiveness? Do you think she will be able to forgive herself?

8. Maudene places herself in a precarious situation by taking wayward Jenny into her home. Discuss the possible implications of this decision. What would you have done if faced with a similar situation?

9. How do Ellen and Jenny change over the course of the novel? Which character changes the most, which the least?

10. How did your opinion of Jenny’s mother change over the course of the novel?

11. In Jenny’s young life she has already faced so many obstacles: poverty, abuse, struggles with school, a runaway mother and an unpredictable father. What do you think will become of Jenny?

12. What does the title Little Mercies mean to you?

Suggested by Members

do you know anyone like the child in this book?
by Earleygirlsbooks (see profile) 07/15/14

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

use it as the pass around book
by Earleygirlsbooks (see profile) 07/15/14
pass it around from reader to reader and then keep quiet until you all have read it . Meet and share how it has made you think different about the things you now look for when dealing with hidden problems with familys around youl

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
  "little mercies"by GabrieleO (see profile) 06/16/15

Is a feel good book with a happy ending. Insight about how a parent or anyone could accidentally leave their baby in a too hot car. Makes you think about what little mercies means to you. ????

 
by velezyu (see profile) 11/06/14

 
  "Little Mercies"by Silversolara (see profile) 10/08/14

A social worker charged with child negligence? A ten-year old left alone? What do Ellen and Jenny have in common?

The common thread has built a beautifully written story by Ms. Gudenka

... (read more)

 
by kleindolphs (see profile) 09/17/14

 
  "Little Mercies "by Earleygirlsbooks (see profile) 07/15/14

Won this as an Arc and the book club and I are sharing it . waiting till all 7 have read it to do a discussion, but I found it wonderful.

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