Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book Review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

From Goodreads:
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.
Exactly what I want to see in women's lit.  Something ripped from the headlines that focuses more on the aftermath of the "event" and how it affects the main characters and their lives.  Gudenkauf does a good job of creating multi-dimensional characters you can sympathize with, but who are also believably flawed.  And the story itself moves quickly enough to keep the reader's attention.  There's nothing spectacular in terms of craft or language use, but that's not something I expect in this genre.

Entertainment Value
Well I devoured it in two days, so that says something, right?  The characters are compelling and "ripped from the headlines" is the perfect description for the plot.  It deals with a child left in a hot car, which was especially apt given the news stories from this summer in my area.  Hard to read at times, but very moving.  I was totally sucked into the story and couldn't stop reading.

If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, you'll love Heather Gudenkauf.  It's not particularly mind-blowing in terms of writing, but it will make you think about how you consider and judge others.  And best of all, it's as engrossing as it can be, which makes it exactly what I look for in women's lit.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review!

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