Mercy House: A Novel (Paperback)
“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.
About the Author
Alena Dillon is the author of Mercy House, which is in development as a CBS All Access television series. Her work has appeared in publications including LitHub, River Teeth, Slice Magazine, The Rumpus, and Bustle. She teaches creative writing and lives on the north shore of Boston with her husband, son, and dog.
“A life-altering debut featuring fierce, funny, and irreverent women who battle the most powerful institution in the world. This is the book we’ve all been waiting for.”
— Amy Schumer
"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
“In Mercy House, Alena Dillon gives us one of fiction’s more unlikely lovable heroines: elderly, dynamic Sister Evelyn, whose tale—and that of her housemates—is as unexpected as it is moving. This is a thoughtful, accomplished debut.”
— Therese Ann Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of Z, A Well-Behaved Woman, and A Good Neighborhood
“[A] stirring, fiery debut...Dillon balances her protagonist’s righteous anger with an earnest exploration of Evie’s faith and devotion to justice and community service. This uncompromising story will light up book clubs.”
— Publishers Weekly
"...Dillon's debut novel is heartwarming to its core. With a widely diverse cast of supporting characters, author Dillon brings Bed-Stuy to life. Realistic in scope and pious without being preachy, Mercy House will appeal to fans of Naomi Ragen's The Devil in Jerusalem (2015) and Autumn J. Bright's Lovely (2017)."
"Dillon’s debut novel is heartwarming and easy to read, it never glosses over the history of abuse and sexism in the Catholic church...Those interested in religious fiction will also appreciate a simple narrative tackling complex church events. Perfect for reading groups."
— Library Journal
"For fans of Ann Patchett’s The Patron Saint of Liars or Maile Meloy’s Liars and Saints, Mercy House is a must-read."
— San Francisco Book Review