Small Mercies

Small Mercies

3.86 (84 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Illustrated by 
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Named a Best Middle-Grade Book of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews

2021 Outstanding International Books List, United States Board on Books for Young People

Mercy lives in modern-day Pietermaritzburg, South Africa with her eccentric foster aunts-two elderly sisters so poor, they can only afford one lightbulb. A nasty housing developer is eying their house. And that same house suddenly starts falling apart-just as Aunt Flora starts falling apart. She's forgetting words, names, and even how to behave in public. Mercy tries to keep her head down at school so nobody notices her. But when a classmate frames her for stealing the school's raffle money, Mercy's teachers decide to take a closer look at her home life.

Along comes Mr. Singh, who rents the back cottage of the house on Hodson Road. When he takes Mercy to visit a statue in the middle of the city, she learns that the shy, nervous "Mohandas" he tells stories about is actually Gandhi, who spent a cold and lonely night in the waiting room of the Pietermaritzburg train station over a hundred years ago. It marked the beginning of his life's quest for truth...and the visit to his statue marks Mercy's realization that she needs-just like Gandhi-to stand up for herself.

Mercy needs a miracle. But to summon that miracle, she has to find her voice and tell the truth-and that truth is neither pure nor simple.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 162 pages
  • 127 x 203 x 20.32mm | 498.95g
  • CA, United States
  • English
  • B&W illustrations throughout
  • 1946395161
  • 9781946395160
  • 1,720,187

Review quote

"Mercy is a winning protagonist who is by turns anxious, observant, and brave. South Africa is represented in its diversity: Mercy is mixed race, her aunts are white, and neighbors, classmates, and community members are from a range of racial and cultural backgrounds. Short, episodic chapters in the book's first half build to an emotionally compelling conclusion that is rich in insights about community, family, and social action. VERDICT This novel has a gentle, timeless feel, complex secondary characters, and quirky humor. A heartfelt, human, and wise addition to middle grade shelves.-Elizabeth Giles, Lubuto Library Partners, Zambia (School Library Journal) "Karen Vermeulen's simple line drawings complement Krone's text with appropriate whimsy. The short chapters are a nice treat for the reading level, particularly since the themes have a depth to them that take some reflecting. Krone notes that her "favorite stories are those that, just when you expect a lesson, sing a song instead." Small Mercies is just that surprising song, full of light and sweetness. Readers will carry the melody in their hearts long after the last page is turned." -New York Journal of Books A "poignant, charming, perfect gem of a novel" - The Buffalo News
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About Bridget Krone

Bridget Krone lives and works in a village called Hilton just outside Pietermaritzburg, in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa. Her office looks onto a field where cows graze in the winter and cranes (both crowned and blue) visit in the summer. She has spent most of her working life writing short novels and English language text books for school children in South Africa. Her favorite stories are those that, just when you expect a lesson, sing a song instead. Karen Vermeulen is an illustrator, designer, art director, and writer living in Cape Town, South Africa. She has designed the majority of Catalyst Press's book covers. She works from a corner of her small flat, her desk facing Table Mountain. She loves humor, stories, patterns and color. Her cat (Sir Henry) loves walking over Her keyboard and lying on top of her drawings while she tries to work.
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Rating details

84 ratings
3.86 out of 5 stars
5 27% (23)
4 35% (29)
3 35% (29)
2 4% (3)
1 0% (0)
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