Why I Read Heartwrenching Stories #LittleMercies

by Jennifer Donovan

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Heather Gudenkauf’s novel Little Mercies, which released June 24, 2014.

I read for a lot of reasons. Entertainment is one, of course. I also read for education, be it a book on parenting teens or health or Christian discipleship. Some novels or memoirs straddle that entertainment/education line quite nicely. I can read a book that features a teenager and it inevitably colors the way I interact with my own teen. A memoir about someone battling an addiction breeds empathy for others who I know are struggling in some way.


I just finished reading Heather Gudenkauf’s latest novel Little Mercies (click through to 5 Minutes for Books to read my review). It’s about one of those topics that I know some women avoid reading. I think that some people are afraid to read books about child abuse or the death of a child or the dissolution of a marriage. These hard topics hit too close to home. But for me these heartwrenching stories are a type of an eduction.

I didn’t have that kind of life growing up. My friends didn’t either. But as I get to know people now, I realize that so many people come from backgrounds of heartbreak or are experiencing current heartbreak. Opening myself up to stories like Little Mercies remind me that people live that kind of life — people I know now, people I’ll meet in the future.

It reminds me to keep my heart open to care about others. When I’m wrapped up in my own little world and my problems (or my comfortable life), I forget that there are so many hurting people out there.

Read Little Mercies with your Bookclub

There are all kinds of bookclubs, but I think that a bookclub is one of the best places to discuss a novel that deals with topics that hit close to home. Check out the bookclub kit, and discuss such topics as work/life balance, parent/child relationships (ours and with our parents), parenting mistakes and more.

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Follow the instructions in the widget below to win Little Mercies and the other two novels featured here. Start off by leaving a comment telling me what heartwrenching topics you avoid reading about or if — like me — you learn from them.

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Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Krista July 2, 2014 at 9:30 am

I like to read about all life experiences. It opens up new perspectives for me.


2 anne July 2, 2014 at 10:12 am

I read about all the trials and tribulations and watch documentaries which are heartfelt and hard to take but important and meaningful.


3 Katie July 2, 2014 at 1:23 pm

I will admit that I don’t like to read stories where women are abused. However, I have learned some valuable things from those I have read as well.


4 Christine L. July 2, 2014 at 4:17 pm

I’ve never avoided books or visual media with sensitive subjects, but rather view these types of stories as learning from the experiences of others.


5 Linda Kish July 2, 2014 at 9:19 pm

No, I will read pretty much any heart-wrenching topic.


6 Stacie Gorkow July 2, 2014 at 11:59 pm

I read most topics but death of children or abuse of them is tough.


7 K. Finn July 3, 2014 at 3:10 am

My fiance died from cancer at the age of 33, so I tend to avoid things about personal feelings about death. TFIOS commercials recently drove me crazy, because I think there’s too much of a perception that loving someone who is dying is romantic. It’s hell…but maybe there is more to the book than I know. I just won’t ever read it.

In high irony, I have been a M.A. in Intl Human Rights student, so I do read quite a bit about genocide and the like.


8 Liz July 3, 2014 at 12:17 pm

There are few subjects I would avoid but some authors, because, as you note, there is a fine line for writing about sensitive issues.


9 Anita Yancey July 4, 2014 at 7:20 pm

I try not to avoid any topics because I feel that I learn from them too. Thanks for having the giveaway.


10 Benita July 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm

It’s hard for me to read about protracted illness.


11 danielle July 7, 2014 at 10:22 am

I like to read as much as I can.


12 samantha wagner July 7, 2014 at 6:41 pm

I am pretty open when reading. But there is a fine line with many topics.


13 Cindy Brooks July 8, 2014 at 1:40 am

I like to read them. Like you, I always feel I learn something.


14 Angela Saver July 8, 2014 at 2:10 am

I wiill read about anything, but I do avoid stories that involve children getting sick & dying.



15 Laura Kay July 8, 2014 at 8:38 am

I will pretty much try anything, but if things with kids get too bad I won’t read it. Oh but I will not read books about real life abuse of kids, I guess if it’s fiction I’m bothered but when it’s a real story…I can’t deal.


16 vickie couturier July 9, 2014 at 11:08 am

I cant read about losing a family member at this time,,It brings back too many bad memories,,i lost my Mom,little brother and loving pet we had for 10yrs with 2 yrs ,,still struggling with the pain


17 YvonneJ July 9, 2014 at 11:14 am

There aren’t really any subjects that I tend to shy away from. I usually have a general idea of what a book is about before I start reading so I’m not normally caught unaware when a sensitive subject is introduced.


18 Nancy Loring July 10, 2014 at 5:48 am

I am also a book worm. I will read anything. The one thing that breaks my heart to watch is the ads for the Humane Society. Those sad little faces with sad stories kils me.


19 Bailey Dexter July 10, 2014 at 9:49 pm

I love to read just about everything, but with that said as they say until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes. Books like these help you through the not knowing what to say to a friend when the conversation comes up!


20 Hailey L. July 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm

There are no heartwrenching topics that I generally avoid reading about. I feel like I learn from them as well.


21 Rhonda July 12, 2014 at 8:47 pm

I would rather read about things even uncomfortable situations.rather learn about then be shocked.


22 Rebecca Parsons July 14, 2014 at 1:09 am

As much as I don’t care for reading about things like this on the news I think reading about something so deep can make you sympathize more with people and their situations.


23 meagan bs July 14, 2014 at 2:32 pm

the only stories i purposely avoid are stories about abused children, especially news stories about this, but i would read about an adult that was abused as a child. these stories just hurt me so much, i imagine my daughter ever being treated that way and it just kills me. I think heartbreaking stories do a lot of good for a lot of people though, especially those told by the victim about their survival.


24 Tiana Smith July 14, 2014 at 4:42 pm

I have a hard time reading about child issues – hits too close to home!


25 holdenj July 14, 2014 at 6:12 pm

I don’t like reading about the death of a child.


26 krystal wheeler July 15, 2014 at 10:17 am

I love to read everything! !


27 krystal wheeler July 15, 2014 at 10:18 am

I love to read everything


28 Patricia July 15, 2014 at 9:58 pm

I would like to read this


29 Helga July 15, 2014 at 11:04 pm

I like heart warming true stories that inspire.


30 RICHARD HICKS July 20, 2014 at 10:39 pm

I think it is good to read these types. Makes one a better person in the long run.


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