Book Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
Publisher’s Book Description:
No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.
Girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.
Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for their chance to grab one of the girls in order to make their fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.
With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.
Karen and The Teen’s Thoughts:
This was the first time that The Teen and I read the same book at the same time but not together. I started it and then a few days later she started it and then we were racing to see who would finish it first. It’s been two weeks since we have finished reading it and we still come together and talk about it. There’s a lot to unpack and talk about in this dystopian tale.
Let me start by saying this: We both LOVED and highly recommend this book. We found it interesting, compelling, thoughtful and very discussable. I thought the middle part dragged a bit, but she did not. At the end, we both agreed it is one of our top 10 YA reads for 2019 so far.
I am a person who likes to collect quotes and for me, there were a lot of spot on quotes about feminism, how we think about and treat women, and the importance of coming into your own. There were sentences and phrases that just jumped off the page and spoke to me.
This is also a story that very much demonstrates how religion, tradition, laws and control of information can be used to hold a person or people group in subjugation. Though this may be a made up dystopian world with rules that we think could never happen, the truth is that it felt all too real. In fact, given the current political climate, the essence of this story didn’t feel that impossible at all, which made it all the more terrifying.
The heart of this story is Tierney, who is a flawed but fierce main character who knows a lot, but doesn’t know as much as she think she knows. She is surrounded by a variety of characters who help her, hurt her, surprise her, terrify her, disappoint her and challenge her in ways that often surprise the reader as well.
Some of the characters could have been fleshed out a tad more and I thought the middle section could have been condensed a bit, but this was a book that I picked up and couldn’t stop reading. The same is true for The Teen, who picked it up late one evening and had finished it the following afternoon.
I’ve read many books that claimed to be feminist reads this year that I found lacking, but this book is fiercely feminist and challenging and The Teen and I highly recommend it.
The Grace Year doesn’t come out until October of 2019 but I hope everyone will be reading and talking about this book.
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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