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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 MenLittle 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 BuiltEvelyn 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 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 mistrea 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 4 stars Informative and eye opening Heart warming and heart breaking Mercy House is a women s shelter in downtown Brooklyn run by three vivacious nuns The shelter provides a safe place for victims of domestic abuse to flee their from their dangerous situations Sister Evelyn, one of the founders of the shelter, is the main character of this story whose personality had me surprised and giggling in each chapter Her no nonsense, tell it how it is attitude helps her navigate the rough and rundo 4 stars Informative and eye opening Heart warming and heart breaking Mercy House is a women s shelter in downtown Brooklyn run by three vivacious nuns The shelter provides a safe place for victims of domestic abuse to flee their from their dangerous situations Sister Evelyn, one of the founders of the shelter, is the main character of this story whose personality had me surprised and giggling in each chapter Her no nonsense, tell it how it is attitude helps her navigate the rough and rundown neighbourhood streets while reaching as many of those in need as possible The Sisters at Mercy House offer their guests a variety of support and therapies, some of which don t align with the Catholic religion When the Sisters are informed of a scheduled visit from Bishop Hawkins, they worry about what he might discover among their unconventional records Unknown to everyone, Sister Evelyn has a dark history with Bishop Hawkins that she longs to keep hidden and with his upcoming visit, she is concerned about the future of Mercy House.A remarkable debut novel I enjoyed the writing and found the story flowed and unfolded smoothly It kept me intrigued from start to finish The characters were unique and loveable Sister Evelyn is a stand out character who I loved rooting for.There were a few plot points that felt overdone, including the ending that tied up a little too neatly for me, however, I really enjoyed following Sister Evelyn s personal growth journey This may be a sensitive novel for those who live a strict Catholic lifestyle There are many scenarios in which the nuns help victims in ways that would not be embraced by their religion, but they feel is in the best interest of the victim at the time There are also several references to crimes committed and then hidden within the Catholic church None of these scenarios were a complete shock to me, and although the author presented them in a respectable manner, they were uncomfortable to read.Overall, an excellent debut novel that I would recommend I look forward to seeing what this author comes out with next Side note I love this cover Thank you to Edelweiss for my review copy 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 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.Thi 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 Favorite Quotes Ever since Evelyn entered the convent fifty years ago and was required to rise with the sun, she worshipped sleep like it was a false god.She d never been to Rome, she d never met the current Pontiff, and she had virtually no desire to do so Pope Benedict XVI wore red velvet capes with ermine fur trim He commissioned his own cologne, which Evelyn called Pope pourri He was chauffeured around in a Mercedes That lavish lifestyle bore little resemblance to her experience in Bedfo Favorite Quotes Ever since Evelyn entered the convent fifty years ago and was required to rise with the sun, she worshipped sleep like it was a false god.She d never been to Rome, she d never met the current Pontiff, and she had virtually no desire to do so Pope Benedict XVI wore red velvet capes with ermine fur trim He commissioned his own cologne, which Evelyn called Pope pourri He was chauffeured around in a Mercedes That lavish lifestyle bore little resemblance to her experience in Bedford Stuyvesant She spread her lips into a smile so artificial it insulted her cheeks.The evangelical minister Pat Robertson said Haitians are paying for their sins with that 7.0 magnitude quake I am terrified that he is right Sister Evelyn came downstairs in the middle of the night and found me in the living room rewatching clips of Pat Robertson, Don t you listen to that giant eared moron He s equal parts hate and insanity, she said.Desiree s current johns were low income, most surviving on government subsidies She aspired to move up the ranks and become a high class call girl, a corporate lady of the night, from streetwalker to Wall Street You couldn t claim Desiree wasn t ambitious I m like a Cadillac This ride is built for comfort Desiree swiveled her hips and then took a comically large bite of her sandwich More like a Lincoln Town Car Room for the whole family, Lucia said and slapped Desiree s backside.My Review My heart was seriously bruised and battered while reading this highly evocative and stunningly crafted tale of an elderly hard working yet disillusioned nun She had been repeatedly sexually abused by a priest as a novice and never told anyone, now fifty years later he was the bishop who was sent to investigate and interrogate with the singular purpose of closing down her abused women s shelter Oh, the irony And I do loves me some clever irony This was my first exposure to the brilliant wordcraft of Alena Dillon and I was quickly caught up in her mesmerizing and powerful word voodoo and sucked into a heart squeezing vortex that transported me to a run down dwelling with an angel knocker on Mercy Street in Brooklyn, New York I inhabited that residence with an oddly and uniquely compelling hodgepodge of residents, each with a troubling and heartbreaking past as well as an equally challenging present The storylines were gripping and taut with tension, frustration, disheartening circumstances, despair, and eye opening revelations I was continually struck by the quality and perceptiveness of the writing, which was staggeringly emotive, skillfully assembled, and laced with insightful observations and descriptions of the various types of pain body, mental, emotional, and of the psyche I grew to appreciate each of these complicated women, especially the mouthy ones And going forward, I will never look at a can of Lysol the same way ever again 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 themSister 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 themSister 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, andsistersin 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 learnedabout 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 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 t 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 isthan 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 outabout 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 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 sufferedthan 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 sufferedthan 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 toldrealistic 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 any 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 thingscomplicated 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 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 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 any 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


About the Author: Alena Dillon

Alena Dillon is the author of Mercy House, forthcoming from William Morrow in 2020, and the humor collection, I Thought We Agreed to Pee in the Ocean Alena lives with her family in the north shore of Boston.


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