Tuesday Sparks: Intros/Teasers – “Little Mercies”





Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

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.


46 thoughts on “Tuesday Sparks: Intros/Teasers – “Little Mercies”

  1. That intro is definitely intense! I can imagine in a line of work like that you’d hope people had more sensibilities than they do, especially because, as it says, everyone has unguarded moments in which terrible things can happen. This sounds like a really interesting, if emotional, book! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    My Tuesday Intro
    Juli @ Universe in Words


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Wendy, and I couldn’t help but imagine circumstances when any one of us could have been in this spot. The hectic nature of juggling parenthood with social worker sometimes felt impossible. Glad you enjoyed this one.


  2. I would definitely keep reading, and not to sound insensitive or anything of the sort, but I have found so much strength and inspiration in the stories of children who have had to persevere through terrible atrocities. Though they do not wear a superhero cape, most social workers are heroes; at least in my opinion 😉


    1. Thanks, Claudia…most of us feel anything but heroes, especially when the public blames us if anything goes wrong; to hear that not everyone feels that way is very gratifying. Glad you could stop by.


    1. I think it helps to think of the children in need, rather than my own feelings. I had to separate my feelings as a parent from those as a social worker at times. Thanks for visiting, Sarah.


  3. I knew you were a former social worker and, as I read the opening paragraph, I thought of you as now, the reader. I’m sure its one of the most difficult jobs of all. Did reading this book bring back some of the horrific things you saw? Or maybe it reminded you of the people you were successfully able to help.


    1. It did resurrect the fears we all have that any of us could be on the hot seat, whether for our parenting or our judgment about the cases. Being a social worker doesn’t protect us from scrutiny or making errors in judgment in our own lives.

      And yes, I was reminded of cases I handled, and happily, those in which the parents successfully changed their lives.

      Some of the novels I have written have delved into that world a bit, allowing me to emotionally connect with the children and the parents. Thanks for stopping by, Margot.


  4. Oh-my, my teacher’s heart would break. Like you, I have seen too much agony in the lives of children in my professionsl life to know how much it consumes my personal life as well. I will shy away from what sounds like an excellent book. Thanks for posting it.


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