Small Mercies by Bridget Krone
Review by Sandy Steinman, Youth Services Librarian
Eleven year old Mercy lives in post-apartheid South Africa with two elderly foster mothers, Aunt Flora and Aunt Mary. Although they are quite poor, the house is filled with love and Mercy has been with them since she was orphaned at age 5. They have little furniture and use tea bags multiple times to save money.
Mercy is painfully shy and has difficulty in making friends and keeping up with school with all that is going on at home. Aunt Flora has Alzheimer’s and a greedy housing developer is trying to drive them out of their house. They are all afraid a social worker will come to check on Mercy because she is not participating at school and remove her from their home.
Because they need money, Aunt Mary decides to rent out a room in the back of the house. After several interviews, Mr. Singh moves into the room. He is very kind and teaches Mercy about a man from his country named Gandhi and about his peaceful movement. Mercy learns to stand up for herself and not be embarrassed about being poor. Some of Mr. Singh’s relatives help fix up the house and Mercy begins to make friends.
Small Mercies is a lovely story and I especially like the fact that Mercy was black, the two sisters were white and Mr. Singh was Indian. Their diversity did not prevent them from being friends and working together.