• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 11, 2020)
“Never underestimate the power of a group of women. Fierce, thoughtful and dramatic—this is a story of true courage.” —Susan Wiggs, New York Times bestselling author
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.
#mercyhouse, @tlcbooktours, @williammorrowbooks, and @alena.dillon.
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Nestled in the row houses of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood is a house with an angel doorknocker. Mercy House, a refuge for women is run by three aging nuns, Sister Evelyn, Sister Maria and Sister Josephine who don't exactly follow all the rules of the Catholic Church to a tee. The Sister's have helped many women find safety, heal and succeed in life. They have also helped women obtain abortions, calm by practicing Reiki and have never discriminated based on any of the women's preferences. All of the good work that the Sisters of Mercy House have done is threatened when Bishop Hawkins arrives to audit their house. Hawkins has a damaging history with Sister Evelyn and is set on closing the house and preserving his reputation. Sister Evelyn would rather go down than see Mercy House close and when Hawkins does just that, Sister Evelyn dives deep into her past to reveal all in order to save Mercy House and herself.
Mercy House grabbed my attention with wonderfully thought out characters and an immersive plot. From the beginning, I was amazed at how interesting a group of contemporary Nuns could be. Written mostly from Evelyn's point of view with flashbacks of her youth and interspersed with stories of the current residents of Mercy House, I felt like I got to know each of the characters well. Thoroughly developed and distinct, the Nun's personalities and the young women's background's captured me. Evelyn's story allowed me to empathize with her every step of the way and understand her motivations. The story also focuses on contemporary Nuns and the issues of the Catholic Church. It was great to see these Nuns portrayed in a very non-stereotypical way and have them be heroes for their residents as well as themselves. These Nuns are portrayed as real people and some of the most caring and strong people around. It was clear that these women created a community in Mercy House that extended throughout Bedford-Stuyvesant. Bishop Hawkins added a layer of suspense and an antagonist that I loved to hate. The tension he created with Mercy House and the secrets he tried to kept hidden was palpable in the atmosphere. Overall, Mercy House is a unique contemporary fiction with amazing characters that focuses on the good and the bad that the world has to offer.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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.
Find out more about Alena at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.