Mercy House by Alena Dillon is an interesting story about Mercy House, a safe house for battered women in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, and the nuns running it.
There had been much success in the house’s years of operation – aiding physically, mentally, and sexually abused women, most with little to no education or resources, to break the chains of abuse and become strong, healthy, educated independent women.
Despite this, the house becomes the subject of an inquisition style investigation by the Catholic church. These investigations were common at this time, often unfounded, and many felt designed to take attention from the onslaught of accusations being hurled at pedophile priests.
When the priest assigned to investigate Mercy House arrives, Sister Evelyn is horrified to recognize the him from her past. As the story progresses we get to know more about Evelyn and her history with this man, the other two nuns running the house, as well as the girls currently there seeking their protection.
Many lines were crossed throughout the years, pushing them into the moral gray areas always up for debate – does cause justify means? This group of nuns have no doubts. The unbelievable cruelty and mistreatment of women they have witnessed in their time in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood, and experienced in their own lives, strengthens their convictions to do right by these women – regardless of mandates and restrictions put on them by the church.
While I found the both the story and the writing compelling, I unfortunately believe the book will be judged more based on the reader’s religious beliefs and political views than on the quality of the story.
I am rating this book with 4 stars although I do have slight issue with the book’s conclusion. The chosen ending was very predictable, pretty much expected it since the first several chapters, and although it was a satisfying resolution to that particular story, there were several other more important (to me) that were just left hanging. Based on the quality of the story to that point, expected better. Just my opinion!
I would recommend this book for anyone interested in a story of women overcoming abuse and learning to stand on their own.
I was gifted an ARC of this book. Published by HarperCollins, it is expected for sale 2/11/20 and is currently available for pre-order.