Inpisrational and Poignant | Blog Tour + Review: Mercy House by Alena Dillon

6:30 AM

Spoiler alert: Mercy House is deeply moving and an emotional journey. It is all about women. And those who help others.

by Alena Dillon

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.


HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Mercy House by Alena Dillon
Rating: ★★★★☆   
As always, a copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.

Before even picking up Mercy House, I felt this buzz of energy course through me. Like I knew I was about to read something special. Something extraordinary and full of strength. Stories that hold close women who are flawed, but caring and full of strength. These are the types of stories I love to hear--women, coming together, and supporting one another.

At times, this novel isn't an easy one to read. It's all consuming. Honest. Full of hard truths and facts that may, at times, feel almost unbearable knowing. I think that Mercy House is all the more strong for this fact. In its honesty, in tackling difficult topics and exploring them with a blunt prose, you feel the weight of it all. Mercy House is more than just its compulsion of truths--it remains hopeful. 

Mercy House is an absolutely great addition to any reading list, because of the way it portrays women who extend a helping hand. So much can be said about how deeply emotional Mercy House is--in terms of backstories, the horrors of life, and then the most simplest of gestures. Alena Dillon makes sure to leave her mark on readers by writing in the utmost beautiful way.

Dillon grips you from the very start and with every chapter, your eyes grow wider. (I'm fairly certain that anyone who passed me by, as I dove into Mercy House, wondered if I was nearing tears or about to yell about something.) Further, the manner in which she portrays abuse is startlingly accurate and, of course, painful to read about. It goes without saying that because of this, Mercy House won't be for every reader--but it's a definite eye-opening and honest exploration that will stick with many.

Ultimately, this was a highly compelling and thought provoking novel that will leave readers feeling an array of emotions. It is worth every minute spent reading. And you may want to have tissues on hand for some of these backstories and to, of course, proceed with caution.

There are many topics tackled within the pages of this story that ring true to life and leave behind an ache of sympathy. You feel for these characters, and stories, and by the end of Mercy House you walk away feeling optimistic. You're hopeful.

Because even in fiction, there's nothing quite like seeing those who support others in their darkest times.

About Alena Dillon

Alena Dillon’s work has appeared in Slice MagazineThe 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.

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