Little Mercies

  • by Heather Gudenkauf
  • Narrated by Kate Rudd, Tanya Eby
  • 8 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times best-selling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences…. 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Whoa! Ten stars, if that's possible.

I listened to "The Weight of Silence", also by -- then unknown to me -- author Heather Gudenkauf and generally liked it -- I liked it well enough to try another. Who knew that this second book would ultimately rank among my all-time favorites? All through the whole book, I kept making mental lists of everyone I had to pester, to get them to read/listen to 'Little Mercies'. It's a stunner, by any standard. Wish I had someone to discuss it with.

There's a dual plot: in one segment, Ellen Moore is a first-class social worker, the kind of passionate, caring, dedicated social worker we wish all of them were. But by a freaky communication error with her husband on a hot and hectic morning, Ellen doesn't realize that her husband has already put baby Avery in Ellen's car. Ellen rushes off to a client emergency, not knowing her one-year-old is in the back seat. Not until she returns to her car hours later and finds people breaking the windows to free her unconscious child does she realize what happened.

In a parallel story, a gutsy little ten year old Jenny Baird finds herself alone on a bus, heading to a strange town, after her ne'er-do-well father gets himself into a fight and arrested as he's just about to board. it's a heartbreaking tale, as this little girl tries to seek out first her grandmother, whom she's never met, and then her mother, who's never cared two bits about her, and finds herself lost and alone, each time - except, that is, for the 'little mercies' of total strangers who lovingly take her in and try to help.....

In a way, 'Little Mercies' reminds me of the best of Jodi Picault's books. With the two parallel stories, each told by an excellent narrator, you experience two compelling tales as they intertwine. in Jenny's story, we wish we all had the kindness of some of the people Jenny meets. And in Ellen's story, virtually all of us who are mothers won't have too much trouble seeing this terrible chain of events as happening to any one of us. One of my friends -- mother of seven children herself -- is adamant that any parent who "forgets" his/her child in a locked car should simply be taken out and shot, no further questions asked. No caring parent, she contends, could ever be so mindless. This friend is at the top of my list to get her to read this book. It CAN happen. Innocently, and in spite of every safeguard -- well almost every safeguard -- it does happen. And what follows compounds the tragedy.

Warning: once you start listening, you'd better clear your schedule. There are times when you simply can't stop listening, you just have to push on. It's that good.
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- karen

Loved the story; hated the narration

What did you love best about Little Mercies?

The story was a new one and believable. The characters were believable and likable - warts and all. I have read news stories about tragedies such as these but never a novel. Good subject.


What other book might you compare Little Mercies to and why?

Maybe some of Anna Quinland's books. Black & Blue, Every Last One.


Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kate Rudd and Tanya Eby ?

I would have cast a young reader (child or teenager with a believable kid's voice) for Jenny. The adult narrator didn't work for that character. I hated the Ellen narrator. The male voices were awful. Her 'tragic moments" were not done well. Hard to describe but she missed it. Too breathy; too whiney. Some books are better read and some books are better listened to. This is one that I would have enjoyed more if I had just read it.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No but in a fairly short period of time. A couple of days.


Any additional comments?

I liked the book very much but the narration bothered me so much that it took away from my enjoyment of the experience.

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- Ryan's Mom

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-24-2014
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio