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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

4.2 (137 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
4.2 (126 )
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4.3 (126 )
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    CarSho 06-29-14
    CarSho 06-29-14 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MissSusie66 07-29-14
    MissSusie66 07-29-14 Member Since 2010

    MissSusie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    karen United States 08-03-14
    karen United States 08-03-14 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    2 of 2 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
  •  
    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    2 of 2 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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna 08-12-14
    Donna 08-12-14 Member Since 2006

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So loved this book!!!!"
    Any additional comments?

    Not certain why I selected this book but so, so loved it. I recommended it to 3 more people, finished it in 2 days. Could not put it down.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 07-11-14
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 07-11-14 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 07-21-14
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 07-21-14 Member Since 2010

    I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "People Can and Do Make Mistakes"

    This story revolves around the fact that people can and do make mistakes. Some of these mistakes are inconsequential while other's can be life threatening.

    This family of five have all gotten up late and need to move fast. They are all rushing except 11 month old Avery.

    Adam suggests that Ellen could take Avery to the babysitter. Ellen agrees while continuing to pull up her skirt. The day is extremely hot. Adam is running back inside the house and yells at Ellen, letting her know that Avery is in her van. He screams and asks if Ellen has heard him and she raises her hand, waving, which acknowledges that she has. Ellen hurriedly gets into the van, turns the key and is driving to work.

    Ellen is a Social Worker whose job is to be a an advocate for children. While driving down the highway, her cell phone begins ringing. The caller is a young client who has locked herself in the bathroom because she is in danger. Her parent's are engaged in a violent fight.

    Ellen is already late for the meeting at work and gets off of the highway to go and help the child. She arrives and jumps out of the van, closing the door behind her. She does not realize that Avery is with her.

    Ellen's mother, Maudeen, has been very lonely since her husband's death. She works in a diner. Jenny, a 10 year old girl, has just gotten off of a bus, having traveled hundreds of miles to Cedar City, Iowa. This is where her grandmother lives. Jenny is famished and finds a place to eat. She slides into a seat and orders breakfast. Maudeen is her server. She begins to question Jenny when she serves her breakfast. Jenny hurriedly eats several bites of the pancakes, slides out of the seat putting her back pack on. She pushes the door hard and leaves the diner. Jenny realizes that her waiter has figured out that something is not quite right.

    Maudeen's shift is over but when she leaves work she doesn't go home. Instead, she searches for Jenny. It doesn't take too much time, when Maudeen spots Jenny and pulls over. Maudeen has grown children of her own and knows how to persuade Jenny to get into her car after she has heard answers to her inquisitive questions and realizes that Jenny is on her own. Jenny has been taught not to get into a stranger's car. However, she is street smart and feels comfortable with Maudeen. Jenny's father is in jail and Jenny needs a place to stay until her dad is released. Her dad loves her very much but has difficulty holding down a job. Jenny's mother left when she was four years old.

    This story shows how the actions of many people can bring people together who need one another. Working together, this group of older and younger people learn how to solve their problems, that at one time were unanswerable.

    The narrator's, Kate Rudd and Tanya Eby give life to the book, Little Mercies. The reader wants to continue reading to see what happens next. The character's are well developed. The reader can get into their minds and understand what they are feeling. I would encourage a friend to read this book. The story moves along without un-necessary words to make the book longer. The novel touches on occurrences that are difficult for people but with help, there are answers. It was a good read. I don't think you would be disappointed if you were to purchase this book.



    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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