Book Review | Mercy House by Alena Dillon #mercyhouse @tlcbooktours @williammorrowbooks @alena.dillon #blogtour #orangecountyreads

Thanks for stopping by!  I’m so happy to be partnering with TLC Book Tours for the blog tour of this remarkable new book by Alena Dillon.  Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy and Libro.FM for the audio.

Genre:  Literary fiction, contemporary

Themes: Catholicism, sisterhood, priest abuse

Published: February 11, 2020

Source: TLC Book Tour & Libro FM

My Thoughts:

This book was an emotional book, filled with sad stories of abuse but it was also full of hope and courageous, strong women.  I listened to the audio and was thoroughly captivated and drawn into their stories.

Sister Evelyn was a conflicted heroine who owned her flaws and loved the women and her sisters at Mercy House.  When the story opens, she is aching and moaning about her age, making jokes, being irreverent and being very un-holy.  We meet the current residents of Mercy House and then through flashbacks, we learn about Evelyn’s past and what brought her to the church.

Right away we see that Evelyn has a big heart and a no-nonsense attitude.  She is used to being autonomous and running Mercy House, as she sees fit.  She is strong, brave and completely unorthodox.  The ways she helps the women sometimes go against the rules of the religion, but she will do whatever it takes to protect them. When a very evil man from her past threatens everything she has built and the women’s safety, you can’t help root for her and the sisters.

I was raised Catholic so I am very familiar with so many of the themes.  I was around nuns and priests as a young child and always held them in such awe.  This book did an amazing job discussing the current problems in the church, the priests who were protected after committing hideous crimes, and the author doesn’t shy away from controversy. I think it’s important to say that this book doesn’t bash Catholicism as a religion, but it questions the morality in which the church deals with both abusers and victims.

I loved the descriptions of the gritty neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York. The characters came from many walks of life, many races, and many social classes.  I loved the way the nuns had become part of the local community.

This was a compelling and thought-provoking read and the audio narration definitely enhanced the story.  Recommended for anyone interested in a story of strong, funny and relatable women overcoming abuse and learning to stand on their own.

Publisher Description:

“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.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble| Bookshop | Libro FM

About The Author


Photo by Debasmit Banerjee


Alena Dillon’s work has appeared in Slice Magazine, The 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 FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.




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  1. I also listened to this one and was mesmerized. It was terrible, but at the same time unifying for the women in the story. Wonderful review Jaymi.


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