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Little Mercies

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  10,829 Ratings  ·  1,227 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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Feb 11, 2017 Lindsay rated it really liked it
4 stars - I really liked this novel! This is the first book I have read by Heather Gudenkauf and I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style. The story is told from two perspectives - children's advocate/social worker, mother of three, Ellen and ten-year-old Jenny. Both characters perspectives were equally interesting to me - I was drawn into their lives right from the start. It was an intense, highly emotional story that pulled at my heartstrings.

I was on edge while reading Ellen's story, my mouth
May 27, 2014 Sharon 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
Jun 19, 2014 Kathy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diane S ☔
Jun 24, 2014 Diane S ☔ 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 Sarah 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
Oct 10, 2015 TL 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 Connie rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club-reads, 2014
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
Mar 17, 2014 Wendy 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
Mary Kubica
Nov 16, 2013 Mary Kubica 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
Kathy Worrell  ツ
Jul 16, 2014 Kathy Worrell ツ 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
May 11, 2014 Beadyjan 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
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 want
Apr 27, 2014 Hilary 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
Lesley Kagen
Nov 30, 2014 Lesley Kagen rated it it was amazing
Heather Gudenkauf's best yet! Don't miss this one!
Crystal Craig
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
Jul 09, 2014 Myrna 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
May 30, 2014 Tania 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
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
Apr 28, 2014 Britany rated it liked it
Shelves: gr
Ellen Moore is a social worker in the middle of a crisis, when the unthinkable happens to her own child. Meanwhile, a ten year old little girl ends up on a bus riding hundreds of miles away from the only unstable family she knows.

These two stories run alongside until finally they come crashing together. There were a couple of twists that I didn't see coming (view spoiler). This book read fast and kept me interested, but I
Jan 29, 2017 Kirstie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy her books - I need to not burn out and read them all too soon though

This one features an overworked social worker who inadvertently leaves her baby in the car on a hot day

It'll make you cuddle your child I guarantee that
Sep 01, 2014 Barbara rated it liked it

Ohio 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
Aug 26, 2014 Christa 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
May 28, 2014 Marti rated it really liked it
Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf is an emotional story about the strength of a family and living a life helping others. It reminds us about the power of taking responsibility. So many things can happen in the blink of an eye and accidents can happen so quickly. And then a family is left distraught. In the midst of this comes the strength of moving forward and the little mercies that help make everyday more bearable.

This is the story of Adam and Ellen with their three children. This is the st
Jun 16, 2014 Jill rated it it was amazing

I always get excited when I see a new book coming out by Heather Gudenkauf as I have read all her books to date and loved them. Little Mercies is no exception. I always find her books gripping reads with some serious and sensitive storylines.

If anyone has read the short story Little Lies, you will already have a brief introduction to Ellen Moore who is the main character. If not, don't worry, it is not essential. Ellen is a social worker within children's services which as we can all imagine, le
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Apr 19, 2014 Shelleyrae at Book'd Out rated it really liked it

Focused solely on the faces of the young, frightened children creeping from their home into the waiting arms of a police officer, the sweat dripping into her eyes from the fierce summer sun, social worker Ellen Moore ignores the shouting from the street behind her. Until she hears the sound of shattering glass and turns to see a stranger emerging from the minivan parked at the curb, cradling Ellen's eleven month old daughter in her arms.

A harrowing tale highlighting the vulnerability of childre
Score another one for heather gudenkauf! I bought this as soon as I could get my hands on it. Part of me wanted to put off reading it and saving for holidays but more of me said, no way and I devoured it.
A few parts of it were a little difficult to read, it's always hard to read what terrible things some people do to children. I was just on a Facebook page recently dealing with this same issue and people had such definite opinions on guilt or innocence of these cases and most referred to the pa
Mar 25, 2014 Denise rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, 2014-reads
Wow...what an emotional book! Every parent can relate to making a heart-stopping mistake. You know, the ones that make you simultaneously count your blessings and want to turn back the clock...the "if only" moments that give us nightmares. This book serves as a good reminder that we are all human and sometimes maybe too quick to judge.

Without any spoilers, it's a story told from two different points of view. The first is the story of a social worker who is struggling to find work-life balance in
Jun 19, 2014 Elaine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: like-it-like-it
I absolutely loved this read. Ellen is a social worker, dedicated to the vulnerable and abused children she has sworn to protect. If you can image the most vile thing that one human thing can do to another – then she has seen that thing. She is also a wife and mother and balancing her two roles can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope.

One small mistake, one that anyone could make, but when you read about it your jaw will drop, will turn the tables on Ellen completely, the rug will be pulled f
May 30, 2014 Glenda rated it liked it
Social worker Ellen Moore juggles responsibility for three children, a husband, a widowed mother, and a caseload of endangered children. One hot and hectic July morning, she rushes out of her house in Cedar City, Iowa, to help a troubled family, barely hearing her husband’s goodbyes. Only later does she realize that Adam, asking her to bring their infant daughter Avery to daycare, has put the child into their van. As Avery is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening heatstroke, Ellen faces a ...more
Cynthia Archer
Jun 08, 2014 Cynthia Archer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Heather Gudenkauf's novel, "These Things Hidden". It was thrilling and compelling. I was excited at the chance to read "Little Mercies". I liked it even more. I am so glad that I didn't really know much about the storyline when I began. I immediately connected with the book and was totally hooked when the real shocker came. It literally took my breath away.
Heather has the ability to allow you inside the head of her characters. You not only understand them, but you feel what th
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A Million More Pages: Little Mercies: Aug 1 11 15 Aug 05, 2015 09:46PM  
Bound Together: Little Mercies Discussion 49 112 Nov 29, 2014 06:34AM  
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  • Five Days Left
  • Prayers and Lies
  • Keep Quiet
  • Just Like Other Daughters
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Heather is the NYT and USA Today Bestselling author of THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE and MISSING PIECES.
More about Heather Gudenkauf...

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“You have to look for the little mercies, the small kindnesses and good that come from the terrible.” 10 likes
“I realize then, what my mother already knows—has known for a long time. 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.” 3 likes
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