Mercy House: A Novel

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At first glance, the mid-sixties woman in her Mets sweatshirt and blue jeans may seem out of place in the roughest parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, but for the locals who know Sister Evelyn, her presence is common. Along with three other nuns, Sister Evelyn runs Mercy House, the home for abused women at the heart of Alena Dillon’s novel.

Women who have been beaten, assaulted, intimidated, and broken have found their way to Mercy House for over twenty years, and the nuns who run the house have ministered to them in the ways they see fit: counseling them, praying with them, and, occasionally, going against the edicts of the Catholic church. But, in 2010, the long arm of the church comes to investigate Mercy House in the form of Bishop Hawkins, a man who shares a violent history with Sister Evelyn. Her protection of Mercy House, and the women it serves, becomes a battle of wills between herself and the bishop, and no one she cares about is safe as he seeks to bring her down.

The elemental nature of mercy is at the heart of this story: who grants it, who denies it, and who deserves it. While the book is fictional, the stories within it ring honest and true. Much of Dillon’s dialogue feels like eavesdropping, and the characters feel alive on every page. For fans of Ann Patchett’s The Patron Saint of Liars or Maile Meloy’s Liars and Saints, Mercy House is a must-read.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 384 pages
Publisher William Morrow Paperbacks
Publish Date 2020-02-11
ISBN 9780062914804 Buy this Book
Issue April 2020
Category Popular Fiction


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