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LITTLE MERCIES by Heather Gudenkauf reminds us that even those with the best of intentions can make a mistake with costly ramifications. One morning, Ellen Moore heads to her high-stress job as a social worker with a laser focus on saving some endangered children trapped in a house with their dad, who is brandishing a weapon. As she dashes to the scene, she forgets that her own infant daughter, Avery, is strapped in her car seat just steps from the unfolding crisis. The temperatures rise, and Avery’s life slips into a danger zone. Ellen is charged with criminal intent to harm, and suddenly she is on the other side of the law and what is right.
In a parallel story, Jenny Briard is 10 years old and living with her dad, who is well-meaning but misguided. As a scheme of his fails, Jenny finds herself on her own. She is drawing on her street smarts to navigate a new city when she crosses paths with a well-meaning woman who helps her.
As their worlds collide, readers come to see the meaning of “little mercies,” a phrase you will not easily forget.
This story has stayed with me. It takes a look at the “what if” that turns the tide from right to wrong that haunts us all. There is lots here to discuss for book groups. And for those are intrigued by the character of Ellen, be sure to check out Heather’s prequel, LITTLE LIES, that sets up this story and Ellen’s family/career wonderfully.