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Little Mercies

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  15,549 ratings  ·  1,582 reviews
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 de ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by MIRA (first published May 31st 2014)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  15,549 ratings  ·  1,582 reviews

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Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
 Li'l Owl
Quite honestly, Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf is one of the BEST, emotionally charged books I've ever read!!

*Audiobook* Narrators
Kate Rudd ~ 5★'s
Tanya Eby Sirois ~ 5★'s

Ellen Moore is a seasond social worker.
She's seen it all. All the unfathomable autrosities of abuse and neglect that children endure in her thirteen years on the job.
One scorching summer morning Ellen and her husband, Adam, wake up late. They rush to get dressed, getting their children up, fed, and into the car in order
Sep 01, 2014 rated it liked it

Iowa resident Ellen Moore is a loving wife, good mother, and dedicated social worker. In the course of her job Ellen has dealt with dysfunctional families, removed children from abusive/neglectful homes, and sometimes brought parents and children back together.

Nevertheless, the system sometimes failed and Ellen is haunted by cases where children suffered terrible deaths.

Then one morning, the unthinkable occurs. Ellen and her husband Adam, running late and harried, fail to communicate.

As a res
The early morning rush was nothing new for dedicated social worker Ellen Moore – Adam, her husband and their three children all went in different directions most days, so leaving Adam at home with the children while she rushed off to work, knowing she was going to be late yet again, was normal. But Ellen had a phone call from the young daughter of a client and her immediate response was to change directions and head for the house, hoping desperately that she wasn’t too late.

The heat was blisteri
Brenda ~Traveling Sister Book Reviews
Heather Gudenkauf will be joining us in The Behind the Pages group for a Spoiler-free Q & A June 2, 2020 @3:00pm EST to talk about her books and her writing process.

You can find the Q & A here to ask Heather a question or leave her a comment

My review

Little Mercies is a compelling, gut-wrenching, beautifully written story that explores a gut-wrenching situations and the emotions that comes with it. The story explores the child welfare system and the vulner
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-read
Working as a social worker, Ellen Moore has experienced more than her fair share of child abuse cases. And being a wife and mother herself, Ellen notices that most days she is exhausted not only physically, but also mentally. On a stifling hot summers day, Ellen is distracted and what happens next will turn her life upside down.

Ellen is trying to deal with her own problems when her path crosses with ten year old Jenny Briard. Jenny has been living rough with her father since her mother left them
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonetta by: Sharon
Ellen Moore is a seasoned social worker for the Department of Human Services who has had to make many tough, unpopular calls regarding the children she oversees. When she finds herself on the other side following tragic circumstances, Ellen has the opportunity to experience the impact of some of her past decisions. Meanwhile, 10-year old Jenny Briard suddenly finds herself alone in a strange city after being separated from her father. Her world collides with Ellen's and Jenny cannot believe her ...more
Apr 21, 2020 added it
The Hook - You never know what one might pick up when the power goes out. I was in the middle of a digital book when bam, out when the lights. I started looking at the at least one hundred, if not more, unread books on my physical book shelves and somehow chose Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf. I think it was Publisher's Weekly's blurp and their starred review that hooked me. ”A tale so chillingly real, it could have come from the latest headlines.”

The Line - ”Jenny also wanted to tell her fa
Diane S ☔
Jun 24, 2014 rated it liked it
A book that serves as a caution to the many of us out there, working and raising families. How very easy it is to let something slip, how one mistake can have a serious outcome, quickly spiraling out of control. Also the look a the hard job of being a social worker, and the many terrible things that happen in families.

I love this author because her books are usually so different, quirky and surprising. This book was much more predictable, I pretty much guessed everything that would happen. That
Jul 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
As someone who holds a Bachelors in Social Work, and is currently working on a Masters, I was VERY excited to read Little Mercies. I was pumped to read a book about a Social Worker, a self proclaimed advocate for children.

I was extremely disappointed.

I should start by saying that I've read one of Gudenkauf's other books, and I was less than impressed. I remember little about the book other than the fact that I didn't like it. So when I realized who had written Little Mercies, I was already in
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aug-14
Heather Gudenkauf has proven, once again, that she is a master storyteller.
She writes a gripping story about a horrific incident that happens, all too often, in society today.
Ellen a dedicated and hard working social worker juggles her marriage, raising three children and her demanding career. On a daily basis she witnesses the horrors inflicted upon children and does her best to remove them from that enviroment.
One day something happens, a moments distraction, which threatens the life of her c
Dale Harcombe
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ellen Moore is haunted by the case of young Madalyn Olmstead. Although it was never proved, she believes James Olmstead killed her and got away with it. In her job as a social worker Ellen has seen numerous cases of the horrors inflicted on children. She has three children of her own, the youngest being Avery. One frantic morning after getting up late, Ellen says goodbye to her family and sets off for work on a blistering hot day. A short time later, she receives a desperate phone call from a yo ...more
The book covers some important topics such as motherhood, social workers, child abuse and personal feelings from the point of view of those involved The book covers the actions and feelings of the main characters by giving each a voice and the story moves from character to character as the story unfolds. Well worth a read and the author deals with the very deepest of emotions such as fear, loss and even hope... not only from an abused child's point of view but from a social worker who also has t ...more
Oct 10, 2015 rated it liked it
(304 pages in my copy before all the extra stuff at the back)

Flipping back and forth with the rating but I will say 2.5 stars... it didn't blow me out of the water but it wasn't horrible either...

Don't know what to say about this, on one hand it kept me turning the pages but on the other the main character Ellen annoyed me at times. I felt for her and her family but her inner thinking made it hard to have sympathy for her at times.

(Her mother and Adam, good-hearted people)

Jenny's story felt more
Aug 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, book-club-reads
3-4 still thinking.

I have mixed thoughts about this one. I like Gudenkaufs style, quick and to the point writing, with very realistic characters. She tackles some tough subjects and shows the reader that horrible things do happen to good people. This story was no different. Usually her books lead the reader to a twist, but this time the "oh my" moment started off the story.

Though I liked both the characters of Ellen and Jenny and also liked the chapters being told from different viewpoints unt
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

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. Gudenkauf. It deals with social services from the adult and the child's side and what can easily happen both good and bad​.

​You will feel Ellen's pain as she deals with an accident she herself as a social worker deals with every day but with a situation she never thought she would have to personally deal with.
You will wan
Mary Kubica
Nov 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just loved this book! I found it to be both gripping and emotionally moving, especially as a mother myself; I was in tears by the end of the book. Heather Gudenkauf does an amazing job exploring various mother/child relationships throughout LITTLE MERCIES - both good ones and bad - and explores the effect one huge mishap in parenting (something which, in all honesty, could happen to any of us, making it all the more terrifying) has on our protagonist Ellen Moore and her family. I'm so honored ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Jodi Piccoult of Kristen Hannah
I devoured this book. I couldn't put it down, not even for a second. This grabbed me from page one and didn't let me go until the very last page. This would be a great choice for book club. The book alternated back and forth between Jenny and Ellen. Jenny, an eleven year old girl who longed for nothing more than a family to call her own. Ellen, a fiercely passionate social worker with a husband and three young children. One day, boom. Tragedy strikes. All of a sudden, Ellen's perfectly managed w ...more
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Another great book written by Heather Gudenkauf!

I started reading her novel, when I came upon the "one small mistake [that] can have a life-altering consequence" (around page 50) and I almost put the book down. I just didn't think I could go on. Especially since this "mistake" is currently monopolizing our own headlines today! I thought, Do I really want to read about this? Then I said, Just one more page.....

The author's books are so emotionally charged and engaging that I was pulled right int
Crystal Craig
Mar 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015, audible
Another reviewer on Goodreads said, "Little Mercies is a light read about a heavy topic." I couldn't agree more. What an emotional train wreck—at least the audio version felt as such. Narrated by Kate Rudd and Tanya Eby, whoever read the part of Ellen had the voice of sadness, heartbreak, and desperation down to a tee. On a brighter note, the Jenny character added some light-heartedness to the story.

The subject matter in this book is a tough pill to swallow, so if you're sensitive to certain to
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: family-drama
Heather Gudenkaufs books just get better and better, this one's amazing. She creates complex characters with such competence I can't believe they aren't real people.

The story is told from two perspectives, that of Ellen the social worker, her busy personal life as a devoted Mother of 3, whose frantic personal life competes for her time with her beloved career of child care social worker to which she is completely dedicated. Any woman who has juggled home life and career will relate to her somet
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A complex, heartbreaking, wonderful story of people whose lives and stories intertwine in completely unexpected ways. I was drawn in from the very beginning by the eloquent language, by the too-clear images of the children Ellen cares for and their emotionally shattered states, and by the real horror and disbelief of the new situation: a terrible, horrible mistake that could happen to anyone. She suffers one blow after another, beginning to fear the experience she's only seen from the other side ...more
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-ebook
Oh my, oh my. Well done Heather! Little Mercies is an unforgettable emotional roller coaster ride told through alternating POVs “…of a guilt–ridden mother and innocent but determined child.” (Little Mercies: A Conversation with Heather Gudenkauf).

The story line is very realistic. When Ellen (a mother and social worker) suddenly finds her life altered, I found myself thinking/asking questions. What would I have done? This could happen to me, a family member, a friend, or my next door neighbor. L
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably not really my kind of book. However well enough written to be a decent read. I'm aiming to try more of this author's books when I can. ...more
May 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Motherhood is a procession of goodbyes. Some bittersweet and filled with promise and hope, some gradual, a gentle prying away of your fingers from something precious, some more violent, unexpected.

A quick, easy but sometimes upsetting read. The story jumps between Ellen Moore, a social worker and Jenny, an abused 10 year old. If you are a Jodi Picoult fan, you'll enjoy this. My only critisism is that the story could have been fleshed out more with an ending that wasn't so perfect. All in all sti
Lesley Kagen
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Heather Gudenkauf's best yet! Don't miss this one! ...more
This is probably the most difficult review I've had to write about a book in a while, because I'm very conflicted about what my sentiments are regarding the novel. This was well-written and intimate in terms of the narrative itself showing the thoughts and sentiments of the characters. I applaud Gudenkauf for taking an unflinching look at a series of tough subject matters that came together through the course of the novel, which will become apparent as I talk about the subject matter of this boo ...more
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
Wife, mother, and child protective service Ellen Moore has saved countless children over the years. On one rushed morning, on her way to save two girls in danger, she accidentally locks her infant daughter, Avery, in a car. Avery's life hangs in the balance, as does Ellen's future. Ten-year-old Jenny Briard finds herself in a strange town after her father is arrested. Hoping to find the grandmother she's never met, Jenny's life will intersect with Ellen's in ways neither could have predicted.

Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook-arc
Little Mercies is another fantastic book by Heather Gudenkauf! This must read author never misses the mark, and this may be her best yet! The book was in turn heartbreaking, hopeful, and uplifting. It is one that I am sure to read again.

I was drawn to the character of Ellen in the prequel, and immediately liked her in this book. It was so compelling that I read as fast as I could to find out what would happen. The mistake Ellen made was unintentional, heartbreaking, and life changing.

When we see
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Heather is the NYT and USA Today Bestselling author of THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE and NOT A SOUND.

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“You have to look for the little mercies, the small kindnesses and good that come from the terrible.” 12 likes
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