Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mercy House by Alena Dillon, 384 pp

Women’s Literary fiction

When you finish a book and know immediately the character(s) will stay with you for a long time, you know there’s a new five-star read on your list. Sister Evelyn in Mercy House is one of those characters. Entering the convent and taking the vows based on her father’s pledge to “sacrifice” her if his son returned from WWII alive, Evie finds her voice and calling by opening the doors of Mercy House to abused and battered women of Brooklyn. Evie’s ability to comfort and guide others despite traumas in her own past builds an admirable character. Dillon’s bravado to call out the Catholic Church and sins at the hands of the all powerful clergy members reinforces Evie’s confidence in her work and mission. While the story meandered a bit with some of the residents’ backstories, they mirror Evie’s younger years of doubt and fears which hid her voice. As they find their confidence to confront their abusers and move on, so does Evie who is also supported by her sisters of Mercy House. This novel is raw and ragged compared to the softer depictions of nuns most readers are familiar with from the popular Call the Midwife series. Would make a great book club choice, especially for those of us 50+ to identify with a character in her mid/late 60s; a refreshing change to have a main character older than 35!

Part of my Q3 2021 Reading Round-Up.

Check out my other top picks for Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Non-Fiction and Simple Pleasure Reading.

That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.

Jhumpa Lahiri

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