Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: Little Mercies

The first time I put myself on the hold list for this book, I didn't manage to get around to reading it. There were other books needing to be read and it just kept getting pushed to the back burner, until I had to simply return it without reading it (ever had that happen to you??). After returning it, I placed my name on the hold list again. This time, after a bit of a slow start, I finished the book.

The key inciting incident doesn't occur until fifty or so pages into the book. I think this is why I found it hard to get into. I had read the fly page, which immediately sucked me in, but the book itself took a bit longer to get around to the heart of the problem. Once I reached that point, I didn't want to put the book down.

Social worker Ellen Moore has seen some pretty horrendous things in her job. At the beginning we are introduced to her character and to some of these tragedies. We are also introduced to a fragile little girl, Jenny. As the story progresses, Ellen finds herself in a world of trouble when a moment of distraction leads to her own crucible. Eventually, Ellen's world intersects with Jenny's and the conflict grows in intensity.

The book explores the range of emotions we feel as mothers, the traumas children can and do face sometimes in this fallen world, the overwhelming cry for justice, and the power of love. It was a bit tricky getting used to the dueling viewpoints (Ellen's told in first person present tense and Jenny's told in third person past tense), but effective nonetheless. I was a bit surprised that the ending turned out to be so tidy and clean. I'm glad I didn't give up around page 30 when temptation struck to set it aside. It was a sad, but worthwhile tale, proving that even in the toughest situations we must keep our eyes open for life's little mercies.

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