Today I am featuring a book that will go down as another favorite. I just finished it today, and my review is HERE.
Little Mercies, by Heather Gudenkauf, is a ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force that reveals how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences…
Intro: 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 or 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.
Teaser: Tears well in my mother’s eyes and she grasps both of my hands in her, “I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all have our moments. We all have those times when we turn our backs, close our eyes, become unguarded.” (53%).
Amazon Description: 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.
I could relate to this story on so many levels: but mostly as a parent and as a retired social worker. Nothing ignites passion in me more quickly than stories of child abuse and neglect. But this story reminds me that none of us are exempt from mistakes…or the “unguarded moments” that can define our lives. And all of us can occasionally use those “little mercies” handed out in unexpected places.
Would you keep reading? I know some turn away from the horrific stories, but for those who don’t, you might find yourself fully engaged.