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Book Review: Small Mercies

Small Mercies was written by Dennis Lehane and published by Harper in 2023. You can purchase it on Amazon/Kindle and you can visit the author on Amazon and on social media.

A brutally honest thriller of a novel. It rises to the top of my best reads of the year. Venture down into the ugliness of American racism.

It's the summer of 1974. Mary Pat Fennessy is trying to survive the scorching summer heat that is hanging over Boston. She lives in the housing projects of "Southie", a proud Irish American neighborhood that stubbornly adheres to old traditions regardless of the influence of others. Mary Pat is trying her hardest to pay the bills and at the same time she works at providing for her daughter Jules. Amid the backdrop of a city that is in the throes of unrest during the desegregation of its schools, Jules stays out late one night and doesn't come home. That same night a young black man is found dead under a subway platform, apparently after being struck by a subway train. The death is suspicious, and an investigation follows. Jules's disappearance and the man's death seem to be unrelated but after Mary Pat goes on her own search for her daughter, she encounters men from the Irish Mob who consider Mary Pat a threat and from all that, some very hard emotional questions are answered. This is a brutally honest thriller of a novel that rises to the top of my best reads of the year- hands down. Small Mercies explores American racism and takes you down into the ugliness of poverty, crime and the complexity of human nature. For me, it shines a bright light on the polarization of our current times. The novel tries to explain, that while our behaviors and our words toward others can be ugly and sometimes violent, most of us are only trying to live our lives in peace. The racial tones of this story may be offensive to some, but I believe it's a truth that we must face; and why not do it within a well written novel? It held me from the first word to the last. This is most certainly a must read.

I give Small Mercies 5 out of 5 stars.

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