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Little Mercies | [Heather Gudenkauf]

Little Mercies

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.
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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.

©2004 Heather Gudenkauf (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (262 )
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  •  
    MissSusie66 07-29-14
    MissSusie66 07-29-14 Member Since 2010

    MissSusie

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    "Powerful story"

    This is a powerful book, and at times hard to read. This is definitely a ripped from headlines book, when the unthinkable happens to social worker Ellen, how do you get people to understand that it was an accident when the guilt of it is ripping you apart. Then we have runaway Jenny whose dad is in jail and her mother ran off with the man that beat Jenny when she was younger but luckily she is found by a kind woman who also happens to be Ellen’s mother Maudene.

    Ellen has seen the most awful things in her career as a social worker but one moment of distraction changes her whole life and the life of her family and she ends up on the other side of the fence wishing with everything that she could go back and start the day over. This book shows the difference between outright abuse and neglect and accidents but sometimes social services and the media don’t see the distinction between the two. My heart broke in Ellen’s storyline when the awful thing happened my heart was racing and it was just really tough to read.

    Jenny is spunky and courageous and luckily pretty street smart I liked her and was rooting for her to find a better life. Although her storyline was a bit too happily ever after and felt a little rushed I was still happy for her.

    Tanya Eby’s narration as Jenny was very well done and believable but Kate Rudd’s narration was so hysterical it got really old, I can understand that in certain moments of this book the hysteria was needed but it was constant and it seemed to be all the characters are just screeching and whiny. I do understand this was a taut emotional book but I wish Rudd had dialed back a bit.

    As I said this is a powerful book, I think this would be a good book for a bookclub because I think it would bring about a great discussion. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending I felt both stories were rushed and a bit too tied up in a bow for my taste.

    3 Stars
    4 Star narration for Eby
    2 1/2 Star narration for Rudd

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carla 06-29-14
    Carla 06-29-14
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    "Couldn't stop listening!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutely, already did. The story is very well written.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Little Mercies?

    I won't be spoiling the story.


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

    Yes, but I stay busy when I listen. That is the reason that I love Audible.


    Any additional comments?

    This book surprised me. It's very well written and I'd never heard of the author. I'm going to get something else of hers. It is the perfect length, doesn't ramble, and has some surprises.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    karen United States 08-03-14
    karen United States 08-03-14 Member Since 2004
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    "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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle SANTA ROSA, CA, United States 07-07-14
    Michelle SANTA ROSA, CA, United States 07-07-14 Member Since 2011

    I have a CRAZY commute... Audiobooks help keep me sane. I love fiction with story lines that I can imagine happening today.

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    "Definately pulled from the headlines!"
    Any additional comments?

    This topic is all over the newspapers right now and I'm seeing discussions on Facebook and other social media outlets all the time. I would love to think that I could never leave one of my children in a car, but I am a busy mom of three and I can never say that an accident could never happen. This story gives you insight into what may happen in the situation. The story is well-written and the audio book was very well-narrated.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan's Mom Sacramento, Ca 07-04-14
    Ryan's Mom Sacramento, Ca 07-04-14 Member Since 2010
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    "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.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NMwritergal 07-07-14
    NMwritergal 07-07-14
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    "An Assault on the Ears!"

    This author has gone from excellent to bad with each successive book. And this was bad--although maybe it wouldn't have been purely wretched if not for the audio book narrator.

    The story is told from two points of view--that of a 10-yr-old girl (somewhat interesting and the narration wasn't terrible) and an adult woman. The adult woman is the problem. 75% of what's read from her point of view is in a hysterical tone of voice--because of the accident. Yes, anyone would be hysterical and crying but listening to that for hours? Oh, bad, bad, bad.

    And worse, because around hour number three when I finally gave up (so who know what happens after that), she's been repeating ad nauseum "I didn't know! I didn't know!" And never bothers to even tell her husband or anyone else what was happening that contributed to her not knowing, which is critical. And plenty of people could vouch for why she "didn't know." So that was just plain stupid. If you, say, ran over a kid in the middle of the street and the circumstance was that the kid came out of nowhere chasing his ball and as this was happening someone rear-ended your car, you'd say so.That's not what happens in the book, but this idiot woman actually says she doesn't want to talk about the "why," even though she knows the "why" is crucial to what will transpire in the future, and hey, she owed it to her husband not to expect him to take this tragedy in stride, But though he keeps pushing, she won't explain. And then he says, "Oh, it's my fault, I should have made sure..." Seriously?

    It's pretty rare that I don't finishing listening to a book, but I couldn't stand listening to wailing woman, and the story wasn't all that interesting.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 12-18-14
    Kathy Davis, CA, United States 12-18-14 Member Since 2008

    Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy

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    "Potentially Great Listen Ruined By Awful Narration"

    This was a no-brainer for me. I spent 20 plus years in Child Protective Services, many as a social worker. And, one of my most trusted reviewers loved it. How could I not get this book?

    There were some things in this story that made me want to shout, "That just could not have happened!" Yet, I don't know how other locations run their children's services. Who knows, maybe it could have happened. It was in the realm of possibility, I acceded to myself.

    At first, I was put off by the second thread, the 10-year old runaway girl. As I continued to listen, that thread grabbed me. I realized that it broke the tension of the main story. I really came to like the little girl character and that of the main character's mother, who befriended the child.

    What really bothered me about this book was the terrible narration performed by Kate Rudd of the social worker, Ellen. I certainly do understand that the social worker/mother would have been near hysterical and unnerved by what happened to her own child at her own hands, but Rudd overplayed this to the point of distraction. Her hysterical voice was really unpleasant, and it seems she has no idea how to modulate her voice. The ugliness of the social worker's voice detracted from the story, for me. What was even worse--really worse--was her portrayal of male voices. They all sounded alike and did not fit the characters' personalities at all. I have heard other female narrators use those throaty, odd male voices before and I absolutely HATE it. The totally incompetent narration of male voices, actually by both narrators, took away from the seriousness of the content and made some of the men sound like buffoons. Over all, a very serious subject was made to sound almost silly at times. (Some women do male voices so well and others have a terrible time as here. I would be so disappointed if I were the author.)

    So, if you aren't as bothered by poor narrations as I am, I would recommend this book, particularly if the subject matter interests you. This is for me, one of those rare and infrequent times that I would have preferred to read a book on my Kindle.

    And wouldn't it be great if Audible provided a forum for us to discuss books like this?



    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 07-11-14
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 07-11-14
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    "A good emotional quick read from Gudenkauf"
    Any additional comments?

    I first became a Gudenkauf fan with her debut, The Weight of Silence. These Things Hidden was a pretty good read; One Breath Away was a misstep for this talented author.

    This book deals with the tragedy of Ellen Moore, a child advocate who - after a morning of chaos - left her baby in the back of her car on a hot summer morning. her path intersects with Jenny, a street-smart yet naive ten-year-old who travels to Iowa in search of relatives.

    Perhaps Kate Rudd's narration is a bit overdramatic, but it didn't call for the scathing review posted on this site. Tanya Eby's narration of Jenny's portion was admirable.

    I found the ending was a little too Hallmark, but this book is a riveting read. Good work, heather Gudenkauf!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M.A. Wilson 11-09-14
    M.A. Wilson 11-09-14 Member Since 2013
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    "OMG This Was Good!"
    What did you love best about Little Mercies?

    A CPS worker whose job it is to rescue children from abusive, neglectful homes, makes a mistake that will change her life forever and will force her to walk a mile in the shoes of the abusers she's rescued children from. The story is good from the beginning. I loved it!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Lamb 11-01-14
    Sarah Lamb 11-01-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Great Book!"
    Would you listen to Little Mercies again? Why?

    Probably not but not because of anything pertaining to the book. I personally do not enjoy reading or listening to any book more than once.


    Have you listened to any of Kate Rudd and Tanya Eby ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I've never listened to any other performances but I would love to do so.


    If you could rename Little Mercies, what would you call it?

    Bad things happen to great people or sometimes life is just unfair.


    Any additional comments?

    Fantastic performance, captivating story, great all around.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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