2014 – Book #64

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The sixty-fourth book I read in 2014 was Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf. I finished this book on 8/2/14. I rated this book 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5. This book tells the story of veteran social worker Ellen Moore and how one mistake changes her family forever. The story also chronicles the journey of ten-year-old Jenny Briard to try and find her grandmother. Ellen and Jenny’s lives collide in unexpected ways and this book looks at how their lives change forever based on their time together. 

Ellen wakes up one morning late for work and on her way into the office for a meeting she gets called to an emergency situation with one of her case families. She goes straight to the scene to try and help the two young girls involved but in the process she leaves her one-year-old daughter Avery strapped in her car seat for 45 minutes on one of the hottest days of the year. Avery is unconscious and not breathing by the time she is pulled out of the car with an internal temperature of 105.6. Avery is rushed to the hospital while Ellen is left with the horror that she may have just killed her daughter. 

After this, Ellen’s life is changed. While her husband does forgive her and takes on some of the blame for the situation, Ellen is being charged with child neglect and is not allowed to see her daughter. For a social worker who has put countless families through the process of losing their children (the charges, the investigations, and even for some the jail time), Ellen now finds herself on the other side of the system when she is charged herself. She is stripped of her dignity and humiliated and still she asks herself, I deserve worse than this for what I’ve put my daughter and my family through. 

Jenny has had a very rough life, but when she ends up on a bus without her father she decides try to find her grandmother that she’s never met. When she was young she was abused by her mother’s boyfriend and was later placed in her father’s care. Since then she has lived with her father, and while he doesn’t abuse her, she has still had a rough time. Her father is an alcoholic and sometimes Jenny doesn’t have enough food to eat. Jenny finds herself alone in Cedar City and ends up becoming a part of Ellen’s story. 

Overall this was a very interesting book. I found it though-provoking, especially considering the epidemic of children being left in hot cars during summer temperatures. I thought it was interesting how the author switched between Ellen and Jenny’s view, portraying Ellen’s view in the first person and Jenny’s view in the third person to distinguish the two stories. I enjoyed this story a lot and it really made me think about the consequences of Ellen’s actions and how a thoughtless mistake can change your entire life. Definitely worth a read! 

Link to author website: http://www.heathergudenkauf.com/

Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Mercies-English-Edition-Heather-Gudenkauf/dp/0778316335/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1406993681&sr=8-1

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