Mercy House
A powerful debut novel of a refuge in Brooklyn for women in trouble—and the one woman who will risk all to protect them. In the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn stands a century-old row house presided over by renegade, silver-haired Sister Evelyn. Gruff and indomitable on the surface, warm and wry underneath, Evelyn and her fellow sisters makes Mercy House a safe haven for the abused and abandoned. Women like Lucia, who arrives in the dead of night; Mei-Li, the Chinese and Russian house veteran; Desiree, a loud and proud prostitute; Esther, a Haitian immigrant and aspiring collegiate; and Katrina, knitter of lumpy scarves… all of them know what it’s like to be broken by men.Little daunts Evelyn, until she receives word that Bishop Robert Hawkins is coming to investigate Mercy House and the nuns, whose secret efforts to help the women in ways forbidden by the Church may be uncovered. But Evelyn has secrets too, dark enough to threaten everything she has built.Evelyn will do anything to protect Mercy House and the vibrant, diverse women it serves—confront gang members, challenge her beliefs, even face her past. As she fights to defend all that she loves, she 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.

Mercy House Details

TitleMercy House
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 11th, 2020
PublisherWilliam Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN-139780062914804
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Mercy House Review

  • Meredith
    January 1, 1970
    Compulsively Readable!Mercy House is a powerful story about three nuns who run a shelter for victims of domestic violence.Nuns Sister Evelyn, Sister Josphine, and Sister Maria run Mercy House, a refuge for women who have suffered horrific physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of their partners, parents, and guardians. To help these women, the three nuns act in ways that go against the teachings of the Catholic Church.Sister Evelyn is at the forefront of this story. In her role as Compulsively Readable!Mercy House is a powerful story about three nuns who run a shelter for victims of domestic violence.Nuns Sister Evelyn, Sister Josphine, and Sister Maria run Mercy House, a refuge for women who have suffered horrific physical, emotional, and sexual abuse at the hands of their partners, parents, and guardians. To help these women, the three nuns act in ways that go against the teachings of the Catholic Church.Sister Evelyn is at the forefront of this story. In her role as protectress, she has taken down muggers, naysayers, and violent men in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Brooklyn. However, there is one man who incites fear in Sister Evelyn and that is Bishop Hawkins, who has come to investigate the happenings of Mercy House. Evelyn must confront this powerful man to protect the women she has come to deeply care for. To do so, she must face her past and come to terms with her dark secrets.Sister Evelyn is the primary narrator, but the reader also gets some chapters from each of the current residents of Mercy House. I love Sister Evelyn--she is a wise-cracking, no-nonsense, badass 69-year-old nun!Some areas might make this hard to read for some readers. There are parts of this book that detail sexual and physical abuse. A good portion of this book revolves around the Catholic Church and the Vatican. While this book heavily critiques the Catholic Church/Vatican, it does not critique Catholicism. Some other areas might ruffle certain political beliefs and/or personal values. This is a refreshing and captivating read! Once I picked this book up, I couldn’t put it down. I found Sister Evelyn to be quite an entertaining character. She had me laughing out loud. At the same time, her emotions and struggles with her past were palpable. I got quite emotional and teary-eyed when she finally shared her story. Her character is well-developed, but I wish the other characters who play major roles could have been fleshed out a little more. I also wish the ending was a little stronger and that the reader got to see the aftermath of Sister Evelyn’s revelation.Mercy House is Alena Dillon’s debut and she offers an insightful look into the life of nuns in the 21st century. She has a knack for writing strong, witty, and intelligent female characters. I look forward to reading more from her in the future. I received a copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway!
    more
  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! What an unconventional, soul crashing, vivid journey!This is an incredible story about women’s unity and solidarity for fighting against abandonment, physical and mental abuse, harm, humiliation, neglecting. I enjoy the characters of this amazing house opening to their doors to those brave women suffered more than they could stand and who are adamant to leave their painful memories and wounded pasts behind, forming great friendships with each other. I know that too many readers are ready to Wow! What an unconventional, soul crashing, vivid journey!This is an incredible story about women’s unity and solidarity for fighting against abandonment, physical and mental abuse, harm, humiliation, neglecting. I enjoy the characters of this amazing house opening to their doors to those brave women suffered more than they could stand and who are adamant to leave their painful memories and wounded pasts behind, forming great friendships with each other. I know that too many readers are ready to judge the book because of its contentious religious and political opinions because it gives us real questioning approach and addressing to the controversies that Catholic Church faces lately (when Spotlight won the best movie Oscar, those controversies were started to get discussed at so many platforms.) This story also discusses mistreatments to the nuns and evolution of Catholic Church throughout the years. So yes, we have so many heavy stuffs on our plate to absorb. If you need a fast and softer reading, you got the wrong book. Pick another one quickly.And of course the parts about the inhabitants of the house’s back stories are also heart wrecking and blood freezing. The sexual assault and domestic violence those women endured are told more realistic and harsher than I expected. So don’t expect to read some emotional, tear jerker sisterhood story. The women’s lives are shaking us to the cores and forcing us seeing wild and ugly face of abuse. I didn’t question the book’s approach to the political and religious matters. I only focused on women’s stories who found themselves trapped in their lives and trying their best to gather their strength to stop to be physically and mentally harmed. They didn’t want to live like victims anymore. They wanted to build new lives for themselves.And of course I loved sister Evelyn, tough cookie, brave, determined, witty, caring woman who is doing her best to fight against the inquisition kind of investigation conducted by Catholic Church. When assigned priest arrives to Mercy House to conduct his investigation, he startles when he meets with Evelyn. We understand that Evelyn has a history with this man which makes things more complicated and put her inappropriately hard situation. She needs to protect those women who trust her and use her own power to prevent the house’s shutting down. But she also keeps secret and she needs to protect her own self. That’s our story’s CATCH 22 part.Overall: Writing is fast paced, captivating, intriguing.Characters are easy to empathize with. The controversial, compelling, brave and surprising approach is also bringing new soul and new realistic perspective makes us question our own beliefs and life views.The ending was not powerful as I expected. I could say only “meh, okay, foreseeable!” But it still concluded appropriately because from the beginning of the book, the author gives us enough clues how she will end this story. So we’d better buy this. I gave 3.5 stars and again rounded up to 4 because of the author’s bravery and straightforwardness. Special thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins /William Morrow Paperback for sharing this powerful book’s ARC COPY with me in exchange my honest review.
    more
  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    Sister Evelyn runs Mercy House, a safe haven for abused women. She’s tough as nails for all appearances, but she has a warmth and heart of gold when it comes to women under her care. Bishop Hawkins is scheduled to visit Mercy House, and the sisters are worried he may find out the extra ways they have helped the women, as in ways that are not allowed by the church. Sister Evelyn is at the heart of Mercy House, and she will use all her might to protect and serve it. I loved her character. She was Sister Evelyn runs Mercy House, a safe haven for abused women. She’s tough as nails for all appearances, but she has a warmth and heart of gold when it comes to women under her care. Bishop Hawkins is scheduled to visit Mercy House, and the sisters are worried he may find out the extra ways they have helped the women, as in ways that are not allowed by the church. Sister Evelyn is at the heart of Mercy House, and she will use all her might to protect and serve it. I loved her character. She was witty and had a charm and vulnerability about her that made her so relatable. I think Alena Dillon did an amazing job writing about strong women. Overall, I enjoyed my time spent and Mercy House and within the pages of this story. It reminded me of a personal experience I had in high school when I volunteered for two years in a women’s shelter. The author’s writing took me right back to that time and place. Trigger warnings: rape and assault.I received a complimentary copy.Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
    more
  • Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    Evelyn was never wanted. Her father even bargained with God to bring his son home from the war, and he would put Evelyn in a convent. Evelyn's brother did come home, and she did go to the convent.Her time in the convent wasn't pleasant. Evelyn saw and endured unpleasant things.After a few years, she and a few of her fellow nuns opened a shelter in Brooklyn that housed girls suffering from domestic abuse and abandonment. The red door with the angel knocker was a welcome refuge for these girls. Evelyn was never wanted. Her father even bargained with God to bring his son home from the war, and he would put Evelyn in a convent. Evelyn's brother did come home, and she did go to the convent.Her time in the convent wasn't pleasant. Evelyn saw and endured unpleasant things.After a few years, she and a few of her fellow nuns opened a shelter in Brooklyn that housed girls suffering from domestic abuse and abandonment. The red door with the angel knocker was a welcome refuge for these girls.This refuge is threatened when one of the bishops from Evelyn's past who holds a grudge against her arrives to see exactly what they do at the women's shelter and threatens to shut it down.We follow Evelyn as she worries about the fate of the house and about the girls inside....what if they say the wrong thing while Father Hawkins is interviewing them? How will she keep them safe and keep Mercy House open if he finds damning evidence whether real or made up?Evelyn was a very strong, feisty, but sad woman who would do or say anything to protect the girls she was helping. I really liked her.Sister Maria and Sister Josephine were very likeable.The girls at the home were rough but likeable.Bishop Hawkins was despicable.Be aware that there are some upsetting and coarse situations addressed in MERCY HOUSE, but it was an educational read and one that will be enjoyed by women's fiction fans. Historical fiction fans will also enjoy this book. Well written with authentic characters. 5/5This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Mercy HouseA wrenching but hopeful story of women seeking shelter from abuse and the unconventional nun that ministers to them. SUMMARYMERCY HOUSE is story about Sister Evelyn, a feistyfeminist nun who runs a shelter for abused women in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. When the Vatican sends Bishop Robert Hawkins to investigate American religious sisters as part of the Apostolic Visitation, convinced they are breaking Catholic doctrine, Sister Evelyn is distressed. When the Mercy HouseA wrenching but hopeful story of women seeking shelter from abuse and the unconventional nun that ministers to them. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ SUMMARYMERCY HOUSE is story about Sister Evelyn, a feisty feminist nun who runs a shelter for abused women in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. When the Vatican sends Bishop Robert Hawkins to investigate American religious sisters as part of the Apostolic Visitation, convinced they are breaking Catholic doctrine, Sister Evelyn is distressed. When the Bishop shows up early at Mercy House she is more than frazzled. Sister Evelyn had been sexually assaulted as a young novice by this very bishop conducting the investigation. She had told no one of this abuse. She is now forced to appeal to her assailant, and hide the forbidden practices of her shelter—including helping women obtain divorce, birth control, and abortions—all to protect the diverse and vibrant individuals under her care. REVIEWMERCY HOUSE is a wrenching tale involving a unconventional nun, a malicious bishop and a colorful group of abused women who seek shelter from the storm that is their life. The story is intriguing, but as a Catholic, I struggled with the authenticity of a few elements of story. The writing and the character development were both good. I particularly liked Sister Evelyn’s flawed character. The story showed both her vulnerability, as well as her fierceness in protecting the women at Mercy House. I loved the part where she uses a can of Lysol and a lighter, to fend off a gang leader with a Glock. Her feistiness, creativity and courage were admirable. The backstories of the women staying in Mercy House—Lucia, Katrina, Desiree, Esther and Mei-LI—were vivid and heartbreaking and their ultimate camaraderie was inspiring. Bishop Hawkins, on the other hand was so virulently evil, it was almost comical, particularly when he searched the bedrooms of the residents of Mercy House and gleefully confiscated all manner of paraphernalia to support his investigation. I searched for and would have loved to read an author note or an interview with the author to find out more about her inspiration for the story, and her research. MERCY HOUSE is author ALENA DILLION’s debut novel. She has also written a humor collection I Thought We Agreed to Pee in the Ocean published in 2015. She teaches creative writing at Endicott College and St. Joseph’s College and lives on the beautiful north shore of Boston.Thanks to Edelweiss for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Publisher HarperCollinsPublished February 12, 2020Review www.bluestockingreviews.com
    more
  • Nursebookie
    January 1, 1970
    Mercy House by Alena DillonWhat an amazing story and an amazing debut by Alena Dillon. Jumping into this book, I was not sure I would be interested in reading about the Catholic Church and the religious cover up as part of its dark history. However, I was completely wrong. I loved the story of a renegade and badass nun unlike those I have had in my parochial school. Sister Evelyn, our protagonist and once a nurse, runs the Mercy House, located in Brooklyn, a safe haven for the abused and Mercy House by Alena DillonWhat an amazing story and an amazing debut by Alena Dillon. Jumping into this book, I was not sure I would be interested in reading about the Catholic Church and the religious cover up as part of its dark history. However, I was completely wrong. I loved the story of a renegade and badass nun unlike those I have had in my parochial school. Sister Evelyn, our protagonist and once a nurse, runs the Mercy House, located in Brooklyn, a safe haven for the abused and mistreated women with nowhere to go. Along with Sister Maria and Sister Josephine, they will go to lengths to protect those under their care. Sister Evelyn’s father placed her in the convent as a promise to God for sparing his son from death. Though this was not Evelyn’s choice, she accepted being a nun to please and gain her father’s good graces. The Mercy House is under scrutiny and is set to be visited by Bishop Hawkins who shares a dark history with Evelyn. The sisters’ unconventional methods were put into question by the church and leads to Sister Evelyn’s position within the Catholic Church.Dillon’s gift is writing these formidable characters that were amazing - from the sisters and the residents of Mercy House, you will find an attachment for them and grow to love them. The story moved fast and the plot grips you so much that you have to know what will happen next.Sister Evelyn truly is an unlikely heroine you will love! She does not conform, is lead by her heart and common sense, not outdated rules created by men in one of the largest institutions in the world, and she is loving, forgiving and for the lack of a better word, a Badass Nun! I highly recommend this book for its amazing storyline, easy to read, great dialogue, strong women, and puts face front the history of abuse and sexism in the Catholic Church in a way that is not preachy but thoughtful and heart warming.
    more
  • Fictionophile
    January 1, 1970
    Mercy House, a women's shelter in Brooklyn, is run by three aging nuns. It opens its doors to all manner of woman, regardless of religion, race, or bias. It gives succor to women who have been abused, either mentally or emotionally by the very people who are supposed to love them...Sister Evelyn - our protagonist, is sixty-nine years old. A nun for fifty years, she was essentially abandoned to the convent at a tender age by her Irish-American family. When still a novice, Evelyn suffered repeated Mercy House, a women's shelter in Brooklyn, is run by three aging nuns. It opens its doors to all manner of woman, regardless of religion, race, or bias. It gives succor to women who have been abused, either mentally or emotionally by the very people who are supposed to love them...Sister Evelyn - our protagonist, is sixty-nine years old. A nun for fifty years, she was essentially abandoned to the convent at a tender age by her Irish-American family. When still a novice, Evelyn suffered repeated rape by one of the priests she had pledged to 'obey'. She was a nursing nun for years and she has seen many changes over the years. She went from wearing a full 'habit' to now wearing jeans, sweatshirts, and ball caps. Now, many decades later, she is feisty, resourceful, crusty, and resiliently strong for the women who seek out her aid. She approaches life with courage and a sarcastic wit.Sister Maria - practices Reiki with the residents of Mercy House. She has a sweet tooth, likes to play online poker, and is a fan of paperback romances. She loves to bake and it is her job to counsel the residents and do some of the housework.Sister Josephine - tall and thin with perfect posture, she wears long skirts and loose cardigans. Sister Josephine is an academic and philosopher who was instrumental in the setting up of Mercy House. She works as a fund-raiser and applies for grants to support Mercy House.The three nuns are partners, friends, and 'sisters' in the wider meaning of the word.MY THOUGHTSSister Evelyn is a character that I will remember for some time. Her strength, her courage, her stamina, and even her weaknesses all came together to make her memorable.The part gritty, part gentrified neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York was described vividly. It's multicultural inhabitants represent many walks of life, many races, and many social classes.Under the guise of an engrossing fictional story, I learned about the 'nun-quisition' a real series of events that took place not so long ago. I learned more about the corrupt practices of some members of the Catholic Church.Though "Mercy House" cannot be pigeon-holed into any specific genre, I found it to be a page-turner in its own right. It was the vibrancy of the characters and the absorbing story that retained my avid interest throughout. It showcased how we all write our own narrative of events - though that narrative might differ greatly from the memory/viewpoint of others directly involved. A novel with themes of hope and the uselessness of holding grudges.Highly recommended to readers who admire strong characters in a skillfully written story, whatever their religion. A laudable novel that deserves a wide readership.
    more
  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Mercy house was place of refuge, a place of healing for broken girls. I saw an inside glimpse of the faithful ministry of nuns. They had gone through years of change and were committed to staying the course helping anyone who came to their door. They were brave, determined and not perfect. It was refreshing. It was also brutal and unfair. Life is like that isn’t it? Some people will think this book is about the Catholic Church, but it was about abuse to women. And it also was about shame, 4.5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Mercy house was place of refuge, a place of healing for broken girls. I saw an inside glimpse of the faithful ministry of nuns. They had gone through years of change and were committed to staying the course helping anyone who came to their door. They were brave, determined and not perfect. It was refreshing. It was also brutal and unfair. Life is like that isn’t it? Some people will think this book is about the Catholic Church, but it was about abuse to women. And it also was about shame, fear and guilt. Women trying to learn how to live with it. And hopefully heal from it and being brave enough to tell someone you trust what happened. I also experienced this in my life and still suffers after all this time. I’ve been talking openly about it for a couple of years now and I’ve received healing because of it. It still hurts me but it doesn’t control me anymore. I thought this book was excellent. And I highly recommend it. It isn’t a light read but it necessary for us to understand the depth of abuse that’s still happening today. And how wonderful it is that there are people willing to meet you where you are. Willing to take a chance on you and listen to your story. This was a NETGALLEY gift. And I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
    more
  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    Digital arc via Edelweiss. I was really excited about this book’s potential, and it started out really strong. However, about halfway through, it started to feel like too many things were being tossed in the mix, and it started to get feel crowded. I appreciated the ending and will have plenty of people to recommend it to. However, I needed the plotline to be thinned just a bit for a full 5-star rating.
    more
  • Kristina
    January 1, 1970
    Mercy House by Alena Dillon is not what I expected. The three nuns who run Mercy House are spunky and untraditional especially Sister Evelyn. I like that they are helping abused women. They work with the women to help them regain their confidence and begin a new life away from their abusers. The residents of Mercy House are diverse and colorful. Sister Evelyn is the primary narrator of the story with chapters featuring each of the girls living at Mercy House. Sister Evelyn is sixty-nine years Mercy House by Alena Dillon is not what I expected. The three nuns who run Mercy House are spunky and untraditional especially Sister Evelyn. I like that they are helping abused women. They work with the women to help them regain their confidence and begin a new life away from their abusers. The residents of Mercy House are diverse and colorful. Sister Evelyn is the primary narrator of the story with chapters featuring each of the girls living at Mercy House. Sister Evelyn is sixty-nine years old and her body is feeling its age (aches and pains). She is a no-nonsense type of woman who will protect the women under her care. Sister Evelyn is a familiar figure in her neighborhood where she a network of informants and does what she can to improve situations. What the women have endured including Sister Evelyn is detailed in the book. It may be hard for some people to read the details of the abuse. There is also a substantial amount of foul language (even the nuns use it). There is a significant focus on the Catholic Church and the injustices within it. It does not critique the faith, but how things are handled. The apostolic visitation mentioned in the book truly happened in the United States. The book is trying to show that while the Church is focusing on the sisters who do good work (though not always following Church doctrine), it should take a hard look at the priests and other church officials who commit terrible crimes. Mercy House contains good writing with a cast of unique characters. The detailed descriptions provide visual imagery, but they do slow down the pacing of the story. There is a lot going on in the book. I wish Mercy House had been about the three sisters, Mercy House and the women they helped. Mercy House is a graphic novel that did not appeal to me. Bishop Hawkins is a malicious man who descriptions seems almost a caricature. Unfortunately, I am sure that there are men like Bishop Hawkins in the Catholic Church. I am fortunate to have a kindly bishop overseeing my diocese. I felt like that author was picking on the Catholic Church. Events that are depicted in the book do happen and it is terrible. They should not be hidden or swept under the rug. But I read fiction to get away from the news and real life. The book contains a note from the author on her inspiration for Mercy House, an interview with Sister Suzanne Franck of St. Joseph’s College, and book discussion questions. Mercy House is not my type of book, but many others do find it compelling. Mercy House has a beastly bishop, a smart cracking sister, alarming abuse, sinful situations, and hair raising hijinks.
    more
  • Karen M
    January 1, 1970
    I know of someone who started to read the same ebook and she chose not to continue to read because she said she could see where the book was going, bashing the Catholic Church. I don’t feel the same and I wish she had finished the book.I think this a book that each person who reads it will have a range of reactions and emotions because this is a story of tragedy and hope, secrets and how they damage those who hold them, how mistakes follow you through life and continue to affect you. It is also I know of someone who started to read the same ebook and she chose not to continue to read because she said she could see where the book was going, bashing the Catholic Church. I don’t feel the same and I wish she had finished the book.I think this a book that each person who reads it will have a range of reactions and emotions because this is a story of tragedy and hope, secrets and how they damage those who hold them, how mistakes follow you through life and continue to affect you. It is also how adversity can make you stronger and smarter and give you a desire for a better future.Troubled young women and a nun who reaches out to help them in whatever way they need. Putting the needs of these girls before the Church’s beliefs is at the center of what occurs.I read this book in two days because I could not put it down. It is a powerful story with sharply defined characters. I congratulate the author on writing such a significant book.Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers for the ebook ARC you so kindly offered in exchange for an unbiased review.
    more
  • Sandy
    January 1, 1970
    I have conflicting feelings about this book. As a reader, I like most of the characters, though I feel some of them are a little unnecessarily extreme. I like the humorous situations thrown in with the serious business of running this much-needed home. It has a good storyline. However, as a lifelong Catholic, I find the fictionalizing of many of the controversies in the church hard to swallow, even though many controversies do exist, and many are swept under the rug. I'm sure things like this I have conflicting feelings about this book. As a reader, I like most of the characters, though I feel some of them are a little unnecessarily extreme. I like the humorous situations thrown in with the serious business of running this much-needed home. It has a good storyline. However, as a lifelong Catholic, I find the fictionalizing of many of the controversies in the church hard to swallow, even though many controversies do exist, and many are swept under the rug. I'm sure things like this happen in many religious communities as well as business communities. So I guess I just feel picked-on. I really liked this book, however my Catholic conscience won't let me give it a higher rating.
    more
  • Donna Hines
    January 1, 1970
    Dealing with abused & abandoned women and the mercy of faith...WOW!A Catholic community based program known as Mercy House is being spearheaded by some amazing women and sisters who share a strong desire to help others in need.That's until they get word that the Bishop wants to investigate their desires to help women; forbidden by the church.Sister Evelyn is one tough cookie and stops at nothing to save the house and the women they are attempting to save.It's a story of grace, of dignity, of Dealing with abused & abandoned women and the mercy of faith...WOW!A Catholic community based program known as Mercy House is being spearheaded by some amazing women and sisters who share a strong desire to help others in need.That's until they get word that the Bishop wants to investigate their desires to help women; forbidden by the church.Sister Evelyn is one tough cookie and stops at nothing to save the house and the women they are attempting to save.It's a story of grace, of dignity, of courage, of mercy...Beautiful!!
    more
  • mindful.librarian ☀️
    January 1, 1970
    DNF the audiobook (free review copy from Libro.fm) at approximately 20% due to multiple graphic depictions of rape and sexual assault. I am not faulting the book or author for this but I have learned that I can’t listen to this content and can disassociate more easily when I experience it via text. I may try this book on paper when it releases.
    more
  • JP
    January 1, 1970
    4.5I thought this was very good. 4.5⭐️I thought this was very good. 🎤
  • Renee
    January 1, 1970
    With Mercy House, Alena Dillon has crafted a poignant story that will touch many with an unforgettable feisty, flawed big-hearted character, Sister Evie, at the center of it all. It’s already predicted to be a book club top pick. (Side note: Many of my Goodreads pals are fellow lovers of Christian, inspirational, and clean fiction. This is not that.) There is much to applaud about a story that celebrates heroines in their late 60s. These ladies have spent their entire adult lives protecting the With Mercy House, Alena Dillon has crafted a poignant story that will touch many with an unforgettable feisty, flawed big-hearted character, Sister Evie, at the center of it all. It’s already predicted to be a book club top pick. (Side note: Many of my Goodreads pals are fellow lovers of Christian, inspirational, and clean fiction. This is not that.) There is much to applaud about a story that celebrates heroines in their late 60s. These ladies have spent their entire adult lives protecting the vulnerable, healing the broken, championing the despised. AND they still have a lot of life, joy, vitality, and spunk left in them! Brava to Ms. Dillon for portraying the kind of real people who create a safe haven for others & make a real difference in this world. Also, I appreciate the focus on a faith that is lived out in action & the spotlight turned on the victims of violence and how our I-don’t-want-to-get-involved culture turns a blind eye instead of putting a stop to the cycle. However, what’s always difficult for me to understand is how folks can uplift the vulnerable in one sphere to the exception of all others. So it’s tough for me to agree that when a girl becomes pregnant through violence or abuse, her only two choices are killing the child or living weighed down by the burdens of poverty and single motherhood. Why can’t adoption figure into those choices? Some of my most talented, vibrant students were brought into this world in similar circumstances, adopted out, and raised to become strong, compassionate, beautiful young women. They love life! They fight for life! They raise their voices to say ‘We are here!’ They would not have wanted to be denied their lives because of the wrongs and weaknesses of their biological parents. So if I were in a book club that had read this book, those would be some of the thoughts I would share :)Some big names have endorsed this title, so I wouldn’t be surprised to eventually see it in movie form. (Kathy Bates as Sister Evie?) Congrats, Ms. Dillon!(Trigger warning for descriptions of rape & abuse. Strong, crude language & sexual references.)
    more
  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    This compassionate novel is about a group of nuns who start a shelter for women who are victims of domestic violence. We get a look into the lives of the residents as well as the nuns who run the house. Much of the story is told by Sister Evelyn who has been a nun for over 50 years. She is a strong and compassionate woman who wants to protect everyone - the residents, her neighbors and her friends. She is feisty and will stand up to anyone - muggers, drug dealers or anyone who tries to take This compassionate novel is about a group of nuns who start a shelter for women who are victims of domestic violence. We get a look into the lives of the residents as well as the nuns who run the house. Much of the story is told by Sister Evelyn who has been a nun for over 50 years. She is a strong and compassionate woman who wants to protect everyone - the residents, her neighbors and her friends. She is feisty and will stand up to anyone - muggers, drug dealers or anyone who tries to take advantage of other people. She is bitter about her family and the reasons that she went into the convent but she loves her life at Mercy House. There is a bishop that she has a history with who has decided to shut down Mercy House and she does her best to keep it from happening. It's a toss-up over who will win this battle because they both have secrets about each other. Sister Evelyn is also very funny and in parts had me laughing out loud. She is a character who will not soon be forgotten.All of the residents are there to escape from the person who is abusing them and find healing in their lives. There is a chapter by each one of the residents and even though they are very difficult to read, they give a good depiction of the cycle of abuse.Evelyn will do anything to protect Mercy House and the women it serves. She is a strong woman who fights to defend all that she loves and finds that mercy is not just for those who receive it but also to those who give it. Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own,
    more
  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    The house on Chauncey Street with the angel knocker is a safe haven for abused women. Here at Mercy House, the women are nursed back to life by nuns. Sister Evelyn leads the pack, but she’s got secrets of her own. This book is incredibly controversial and I absolutely cannot wait for everyone to read it so we can discuss! This is going to be a fantastic book club choice because there’s SO much to pick apart. People are going to fall into two camps- they are going to love it or they are going to The house on Chauncey Street with the angel knocker is a safe haven for abused women. Here at Mercy House, the women are nursed back to life by nuns. Sister Evelyn leads the pack, but she’s got secrets of her own. ⁣⁣This book is incredibly controversial and I absolutely cannot wait for everyone to read it so we can discuss! This is going to be a fantastic book club choice because there’s SO much to pick apart. People are going to fall into two camps- they are going to love it or they are going to absolutely hate it. I’ve been ruminating on my review for days because I still don’t know how I feel about it. It is emotional, unique, and will ruffle a lot of feathers! I’m not Catholic so this did not affect me the way it likely will a Catholic, hence the reason I’m dying to discuss this! I can’t wait to hear a Catholics take on it. ⁣⁣Mercy House is beautifully written. I’m astonished that this is from a debut author! Sexual abuse and physical abuse run rampant here for those of you with triggers. This dives into the Catholic sex abuse scandal in a fearless, in your face way. Sister Evelyn is strong, brave, and completely unorthodox. She will shatter any stereotype you have about nuns. I loved this fierce lady and her fellow sisters that run the house.⁣⁣This book stirred up so many emotions for me. It tackles heavy topics and does not shy away from controversy. The fact that I’m still ruminating over this book a week later is testament to the strength of this novel. ⁣⁣Mercy House is simultaneously empowering and devastating. The dichotomy is where the beauty lies. A must read for 2020! Thank you @harpercollins @williammorrowbooks for the advance reader in exchange for my honest review.⁣
    more
  • Basic B's Guide
    January 1, 1970
    Dnf at 18%. This book took a very unfortunate turn that will only perpetuate stereotypes within the church. I’m disappointed as I had high hopes.
  • Zoë ☆
    January 1, 1970
    This was such an interesting read about badass nuns! Unlike anything I’ve picked up before, but definitely worth the read This was such an interesting read about badass nuns! Unlike anything I’ve picked up before, but definitely worth the read 🙌🏻
    more
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book! It was an ARC, due out in February. The story was believable, well paced and beautifully written. The characters and story lines felt real. Sister Evelyn was a crusader, human and flawed, but unshakable in her beliefs that she was doing the right thing for the women under her care despite church doctrine. I was not raised Catholic, but I feel that people like Evelyn (and I'm sure they do exist) embody the true meaning of their faith. This is a powerful story of strength, I loved this book! It was an ARC, due out in February. The story was believable, well paced and beautifully written. The characters and story lines felt real. Sister Evelyn was a crusader, human and flawed, but unshakable in her beliefs that she was doing the right thing for the women under her care despite church doctrine. I was not raised Catholic, but I feel that people like Evelyn (and I'm sure they do exist) embody the true meaning of their faith. This is a powerful story of strength, resilience, controversy, justice (or lack thereof), love and mercy.
    more
  • eyes.2c
    January 1, 1970
    Victims and survivors! A stunning tribute!Sister Evelyn runs a woman's shelter in Brooklyn along with her sister nuns. The work is challenging and often rewarding. Over the years Evelyn's concepts of Catholicism, her working faith have been confronted by the women's needs. This does lead her down a different path to that proscribed and opens up many questions. The crux however is that Sister Evelyn harbors a secret just as wretched as her charges. When the author of that secret, the vengeful Victims and survivors! A stunning tribute!Sister Evelyn runs a woman's shelter in Brooklyn along with her sister nuns. The work is challenging and often rewarding. Over the years Evelyn's concepts of Catholicism, her working faith have been confronted by the women's needs. This does lead her down a different path to that proscribed and opens up many questions. The crux however is that Sister Evelyn harbors a secret just as wretched as her charges. When the author of that secret, the vengeful Bishop Robert Hawkins targets their work for his "nun-quition" Evelyn's repressed past bubbles to the surface.Confronting issues involved with abuse and power within the church, I found this a powerful read. As well as the way the nuns must face the reality of their charges circumstances. I applauded the residents of Mercy House and I loved the way the nuns had become part of the local community. Their work quietly has earned the support of their neighbors is telling.Evelyn herself is a rather contrary character who goes from being a confident and brash lioness to a fearful rabbit when the Hawk comes. The rhythm of confrontation between them leaves Evelyn more and more devastated as the Bishop targets her and the Refuge and the women who are on a healing journey. Until Evelyn breaks through her own victimization nothing changes, and when that moment comes I was standing in the pews in solidarity alongside Mei-Li, Desiree, Esther, Lucia and Katrina when Evelyn "was joined by a line of soldiers who had seen the belly of combat and had survived—a small but fierce army." Yes!!A powerful read leavened with moments of humor and love!A HarperCollins ARC via NetGalley
    more
  • BookGypsy
    January 1, 1970
    In Bedford-Styvesant Brooklyn there is a house for abused women run by nuns. Mainly Sister Evelyn who is a force to reckon with. Evelyn holds secrets of her own . This seriously touches on sexual and physical abuse. As well as abuse in the Catholic church. This was emotional and thought provoking. I really liked Evelyn. Being raised Catholic she is unlike any nun I've ever met. I highly recommend this for book clubs. There are so many things in this to discuss. This is well written and In Bedford-Styvesant Brooklyn there is a house for abused women run by nuns. Mainly Sister Evelyn who is a force to reckon with. Evelyn holds secrets of her own . This seriously touches on sexual and physical abuse. As well as abuse in the Catholic church. This was emotional and thought provoking. I really liked Evelyn. Being raised Catholic she is unlike any nun I've ever met. I highly recommend this for book clubs. There are so many things in this to discuss. This is well written and compelling. One heck of a debut.Thank you to Book Club Girl for giving me a copy for my honest review.Dawnny-BookGypsy Novels N Latte Hudson Valley NY
    more
  • Amanda Selvam
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I was initially really excited to read this book after seeing the description. Once I got into the book, it was quickly evident that the author has an ax to grind with the Catholic Church and every negative cliche and stereotypewithin the Church was milked to its full extent. It is a somewhat heartwarming story wrapped in so many errors and gross misinterpretations of the Catholic Church and Religious Life. I was a I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I was initially really excited to read this book after seeing the description.  Once I got into the book, it was quickly evident that the author has an ax to grind with the Catholic Church and every negative cliche and stereotype within the Church was milked to its full extent.  It is a somewhat heartwarming story wrapped in so many errors and gross misinterpretations of the Catholic Church and Religious Life. I was a nun for twelve years so I know very well the inner workings of the Church and I found this book ludicrous.  
    more
  • Stina
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley for this digital ARC.This debut novel is about three aging nuns who operate a safe house for abused women in Brooklyn, but the focus is on the story of Sister Evelyn. Her relationship with the Catholic Church has always been rocky, and when Mercy House and its sometimes nontraditional approaches to healing come under scrutiny by an unscrupulous bishop, everything she has believed in and worked for is threatened. More than a tale of this battle to save this one shelter, Thank you to NetGalley for this digital ARC.This debut novel is about three aging nuns who operate a safe house for abused women in Brooklyn, but the focus is on the story of Sister Evelyn. Her relationship with the Catholic Church has always been rocky, and when Mercy House and its sometimes nontraditional approaches to healing come under scrutiny by an unscrupulous bishop, everything she has believed in and worked for is threatened. More than a tale of this battle to save this one shelter, this is about a crisis of faith and a lifelong search for identity.This book does require some content warnings: sexual assault (mostly not graphic, but only mostly), domestic violence, and institutional corruption/conspiracy to commit abuse. Dillon relates the backgrounds of Mercy House's residents, and as you might expect, they are not pleasant. The presentation did not seem prurient or gratuitous, however, which can be a difficult balance to maintain when writing scenes meant to provoke outrage on behalf of their victims. That these victims are then made vulnerable to additional abuses by the patriarchal system to which they have turned for help then piles on layers of tension that make this a challenging yet worthwhile and moving read.I questioned some of the narrative decisions that Dillon made. I would have chosen very differently, but, well, I'm an atheist. An atheist who was brought up in a Christian tradition and who still appreciates people who live their faith to the benefit of others, but an atheist all the same, and that made it difficult for me to accept some of the directions Dillon took her characters. On the other hand, this made me examine why I have made some of the decisions I have made in my own life, so that's pretty effective writing. I also think that casting the Church itself in the role of an abusive parent was a deliberate move and made everything else make a lot of sense.I'm giving this only four stars because some of the pacing felt a little off to me and sometimes the internal consistency was lacking. For example, the whole Angel conflict had a strange story arc, and the much-touted secrecy of the Mercy House took a flying leap out the window at one point, never to return, and that was not addressed at all. I think I was also expecting more of a mystery subplot about Evelyn's "secrets." But that could be just me.The ending was a little too neat in some ways, I thought, but it was balanced by some reasonably ambiguous loose threads. If you liked Sister Act but didn't think it was dark enough, and you're looking for a character study of a mature woman exploring what her faith means to her, and you can handle a narrative that often casts the Catholic Church in a negative light, you will probably like this.
    more
  • Nancy Timmerman
    January 1, 1970
    I did enjoy this book by Alena Dillon, but the topic in “Mercy House” was a little troublesome for me to read in the beginning. The author really used her words perfectly, though, to make you want to see what happens next. It is so heartbreaking to know that society “turns the other way” and allows men to be so controlling over women. The women in the story had to endure so much abuse it sometimes just had my emotions going unhinged from being sad to getting angry at “why” is this happening? The I did enjoy this book by Alena Dillon, but the topic in “Mercy House” was a little troublesome for me to read in the beginning. The author really used her words perfectly, though, to make you want to see what happens next. It is so heartbreaking to know that society “turns the other way” and allows men to be so controlling over women. The women in the story had to endure so much abuse it sometimes just had my emotions going unhinged from being sad to getting angry at “why” is this happening? The novel also details a lot of the Catholic religion controversies. Mercy House is a safe-haven for young women needing to escape from being victims of violence and emotional abuse. I loved the three nuns that took these young women in; each nun having their own unique personality. The young women are welcomed with open arms, and are loved and protected by the nuns as if they were their own. As Evelyn says, “...if a child was taken out to sea, would a mother not swim after her because she wasn't a lifeguard?” Evelyn is the main character that leads the operation of Mercy House, but has a dark past herself. She knows what these girls need to survive. Her character shows some unconventional ways of being a nun, though, which eases the reader's emotions; giving a little comic relief. Alena is an outstanding, powerful writer. I appreciate her courage in sharing this story for all to read. If you are a strong Catholic, this book may be difficult to read for some, though. I recommend this book for anyone wanting a story of what courageous, strong, and persistent women can do.Thank you, Alena and William Morrow Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of this book. It is incredible that it is a debut book and I hope we see more of Alena's work!
    more
  • Julia (jaylamm.reads)
    January 1, 1970
    Thank youWilliam Morrow for the free book. AndLibro.FM for the free audio book.Mercy House by Alena Dillion #jaylammreadsA small group of nuns run Mercy House, a safe haven for those in their small community who need a place to stay and heal.I couldn't put this book down. I alteredbetween the audio and the physical book becauseI was so swept up in the story. I really liked Sister Evelyn, she was an incredibly strong character. She is so soft hearted to those she meets in Mercy House, but she is Thank you William Morrow for the free book. And Libro.FM for the free audio book. Mercy House by Alena Dillion #jaylammreadsA small group of nuns run Mercy House, a safe haven for those in their small community who need a place to stay and heal. I couldn't put this book down. I altered between the audio and the physical book because I was so swept up in the story. I really liked Sister Evelyn, she was an incredibly strong character. She is so soft hearted to those she meets in Mercy House, but she is also a fighter, and someone who stands up for those who are abused and abandoned. This not only follows her story, it follows the stories of each of the women that have ended up at Mercy House. Please be aware that this has violent and sexual abuse subject matter. As someone who is Catholic, I found this story to be very interesting. I was worried it would be very harsh on the Catholic faith but it really was the opposite for me. Yes, there are some Catholic stereotypes front and center of this novel, but the compassion and kindness of the Sisters of Mercy House was beautiful. The fact is, there are good and bad people in any religion and organization. This book chose to share the bad but highlight the good.This is a debut novel and out Feb 11, 2020
    more
  • Crystal Zavala
    January 1, 1970
    Mercy House is a safe house for domestic violence victims in Brooklyn. Evelyn and the sisters of the local Catholic parish operate Mercy House with kindness and openness. Sister Evelyn has made herself well-known in the community by wearing casual clothing, giving out muffins, and getting to know all those she meets in the streets.Evelyn has a pretty dark past, her Irish father gave her to the convent as a small child after he made a promise to God that he would do so if her older brother came Mercy House is a safe house for domestic violence victims in Brooklyn. Evelyn and the sisters of the local Catholic parish operate Mercy House with kindness and openness. Sister Evelyn has made herself well-known in the community by wearing casual clothing, giving out muffins, and getting to know all those she meets in the streets.Evelyn has a pretty dark past, her Irish father gave her to the convent as a small child after he made a promise to God that he would do so if her older brother came home safely from the war. Evelyn lost touch with her family and made a new life within the Catholic church.When Evelyn and the other sisters discover that Bishop "the hawk" Hawkins is coming to observe operations at Mercy House, they worry that he will discover some of their forbidden and unorthodox ways.Mercy House tells the stories of the sisters and residents who live in Mercy House. Each of these women come from vastly different backgrounds, yet will do anything to keep Mercy House operating.Alena Dillon has written a fantastic debut novel. Thanks to William Morrow for sending me an advanced copy.
    more
  • Inkish Kingdoms
    January 1, 1970
    I contacted the author so that I could thank her for such an incredible book!!! I simply love it and since I want to provide a valid and convincing review, I will do it shortly.If you read this looking for guidance whereas to read this or not, let me tell you this: YES! DO IT! DON'T HESITATE! And don't trust any review saying otherwise xDBy far this will be in my top 5 of the year!!!!<\b>
    more
  • Kristen Doyle
    January 1, 1970
    As reviewed on www.dineanddish.netThis is one of those books that is not for everyone and is definitely controversial, but I found it to be a compelling and thought-provoking read. (As a Catholic myself, a warning if you are easily offended even by works of fiction, this is not the book for you).It's also a book where the audio narration absolutely added to the story.Sister Evelyn has experienced repeated sexual abuse at the hands of a well-respected priest...yet she is forced to stay quiet. She As reviewed on www.dineanddish.netThis is one of those books that is not for everyone and is definitely controversial, but I found it to be a compelling and thought-provoking read. (As a Catholic myself, a warning if you are easily offended even by works of fiction, this is not the book for you). It's also a book where the audio narration absolutely added to the story.Sister Evelyn has experienced repeated sexual abuse at the hands of a well-respected priest...yet she is forced to stay quiet. She turns her experience into good by eventually opening a safe house for women in trouble. As a spirited Catholic nun, Sister Evelyn and her fellow sisters show compassion and support to women who have experienced a variety of hardships at the hands of others. Even when her support goes against the teachings of the Catholic church, the sisters continue to show mercy. Sister Evelyn's compassion is turned against her when Mercy House is investigated by the Catholic church and threatened to be shut down.This is a story of forgiveness, redemption and a reminder that when it comes to mercy, not everything is as black and white as it may seem. Trigger warnings: themes of sexual and physical abuse, rape and abortion. 
    more
Write a review