Thursday, March 12, 2020

Mercy House by Alena Dillon

About the Book:

She would stop at nothing to protect the women under her care.

Inside a century-old row house in Brooklyn, renegade Sister Evelyn and her fellow nuns preside over a safe haven for the abused and abandoned. Gruff and indomitable on the surface, warm and wry underneath, little daunts Evelyn, until she receives word that Mercy House will be investigated by Bishop Hawkins, a man with whom she shares a dark history. In order to protect everything they’ve built, the nuns must conceal many of their methods, which are forbidden by the Catholic Church.

Evelyn will go to great lengths to defend all that she loves. She confronts a gang member, defies the church, challenges her own beliefs, and faces her past. She is bolstered by the other nuns and the vibrant, diverse residents of the shelter—Lucia, Mei-Li, Desiree, Esther, and Katrina—whose differences are outweighed by what unites them: they’ve all been broken by men but are determined to rebuild.

Amidst her fight, Evelyn discovers the extraordinary power of mercy and the grace it grants, not just to those who receive it, but to those strong enough to bestow it.

My Review:

What an emotion packed novel. It is also very thought provoking for the Christian community in general and Catholics more specifically. How do we really show the love of Christ to others? Is it by adhering to specific rules and practices or by coming alongside a hurting and marginalized person?

I came to really feel for Evelyn. She had such a heart for those who needed the protection of the house. She was so compassionate she would not even defend herself when she knew it would ultimately harm a good friend. She was herself hurt deeply at a time when women had no recourse. I liked her strong personality, even if it got her in trouble from time to time. She's the feisty kind of woman I like as a heroine.

Just a bit of a warning to sensitive readers. The young women Evelyn and the other sisters take in are street hardened and they talk like it. There is foul language in the book but it it totally appropriate to the situation. This is a good debut novel and I'll be watching for more from this author.

Read an excerpt here.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Alena Dillon's work has appeared in Slice Magazine, The Rumpus, and Seventh Wave, among others. She earned her MFA from Fairfield University. Mercy House is her debut novel. She lives on the north shore of Boston with her husband, son, and their black Labrador, Penny. Photo by Debasmit Banerjee

William Morrow Paperbacks, 384 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. The book synopsis was provided by the publisher.

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